Friday marks Jimmy Butler‘s fifth consecutive absence due to right knee soreness, and he’s likely out Sunday at Atlanta as well. However, the expectation is that the 33-year-old forward will return for Wednesday’s game at Boston, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (free account required).
In addition to Butler, Duncan Robinson (left ankle sprain) and Max Strus (right shoulder impingement) continue to deal with their own injuries, Winderman notes. Robinson has now missed three straight, while Friday is Strus’ second straight missed game.
Here’s more on the Heat:
- After signing a three-year, $20.4MM to remain with Miami in the offseason, forward Caleb Martin continues to make progress as a player, Winderman writes for The Sun Sentinel. “Caleb has grown and changed from what he was previously, before,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I still think he’s going to have a game where he’ll be flirting with some triple-doubles, just the way he’s getting into dribble handoffs, the way he can get shooters open shots. There’s going to be one of those nights where he’s just going to fall into all of those being makes, and you’ll look up and he’s going to have eight assists with eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter. I told him the big thing is can he get 10 rebounds. I know he can get the points and assists. He has a knack for the ball, so he’s going to be able to get that as well.” The 27-year-old has hit his stride over the last six games (39.5 minutes), averaging 15.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks on .515/.452/.800 shooting.
- Rookie Nikola Jovic has flashed intriguing potential as an injury-replacement starter, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (subscriber link). The 19-year-old forward has a lot of work to do defensively, but the Heat are pleased with how he’s developing early on in 2022/23. “He has really good offensive instincts not only as a passer but as a screener, how to get into open spaces, how to execute different things and then his passing and his vision,” Spoelstra said. “As soon as he got here, that was probably his No. 1 strength — his ability to make other guys better. And he’s not afraid of the moment. So he’s comfortable out there, he’s earning the respect of everybody in the locker room and he’s earning his stripes right now.”
- Miami continues to be ravaged by injuries, which is the primary reason the team has lost four of its last five games, but Kyle Lowry has been playing some of his best basketball in a Heat uniform, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Haywood Highsmith‘s defense and Martin’s all-around game have also been positives with Miami severely shorthanded, Jackson observes. The Heat are currently 8-11, the No. 12 seed in the East.