Jimmy Butler to Play in Heat vs. Raptors Despite Missing Practice

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist

Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler dribbles up court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)
Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

Jimmy Butler will be available for the Miami Heat when they take the court Monday to face the Toronto Raptors.  

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra confirmed Monday that Butler will be available for the game after Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Sunday that "the current expectation" was that the Marquette product would play as he was not on the team's Sunday injury report even though he missed practice.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported the same, noting "his absence today was unrelated to jersey issue and he's not in any kind of trouble" after he needed to change his jersey from a blank nameplate to one with his name on it prior to Saturday's win over the Denver Nuggets.

Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald noted Butler did not practice Sunday because of an "excused absence" and will be on the floor Monday "barring something unforeseen."

Butler finished Saturday's win with 22 points, seven assists, four rebounds and three steals, underscoring his ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor. Big man Kelly Olynyk believed his team would be fine without Butler in the short term but recognized how important he is to the team.

"It's a crazy world, a crazy bubble," Olynyk said. "You're not going to know who's here day to day. Stuff happens, it could be whatever. Injuries, personal issues, you never know in life. But obviously, we've played without Jimmy before. So it's not like the whole world is coming to an end. But obviously, we want him out here. He's a key to our team and we're better with him."

Butler is a five-time All-Star and four-time All-Defensive selection who is a primary reason the Heat can be dangerous in the Eastern Conference come playoff time.

They face Toronto on Monday and the Boston Celtics on Tuesday in a critical back-to-back. Miami is just two games behind the Celtics in the race for the Eastern Conference's No. 3 seed, a seed that would mean avoiding the powerhouse Milwaukee Bucks in the second round.

The Heat will surely need Butler on the floor if they are going to challenge the East's best in the postseason.