Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler, who started the day second in the NBA in playoff scoring to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, was ruled out of Tuesday night’s Game 5 against the Atlanta Hawks at FTX Arena due to right-knee inflammation.
The absence left the Heat without two of their prime playmakers, since point guard Kyle Lowry was already missing a second consecutive game with a hamstring strain sustained in the third quarter of Friday night’s Game 3 loss at State Farm Arena.
Butler scored 45 points in the Heat’s previous game at FTX Arena and then scored 36 on Sunday night in the road victory that lifted the Heat to a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference opening-round playoff series.
Butler worked through a series of injuries and ailments during the regular season, appearing in only 57 of the 82 games.
Most recently, he had frequently been listed on the team’s injury report in the latter stages of the regular season with a toe irritation. He did not miss time during the regular season with knee injuries.
The Heat did not practice Monday, nor did they hold a shootaround Tuesday morning, indicating the absence was due more to chronic discomfort.
Butler’s absence comes in the wake of Victor Oladipo being inserted into the Heat playoff rotation in Sunday night’s victory in Atlanta, with coach Erik Spoelstra expressing a role for the former All-Star going forward.
This story will be updated.