Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler headed directly to Los Angeles following Friday night’s loss to the Denver Nuggets in the hope of getting final clearance from doctors there not to have to miss additional time this season to manage his sore right knee.
The Heat previously had announced that Butler would be limited to only one game in back-to-back sets in December, with Friday night’s 37:50 in the 124-119 loss to the Nuggets at the start of the five-game trip precluding a Saturday appearance against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Arena.
The Heat do not play their next back-to-back set until Feb. 10 at home against the Houston Rockets and Feb. 11 at the Orlando Magic.
Butler, 33, previously sat out the second night of a back-to-back set this month on Dec. 6 against the Detroit Pistons and the first night of a back-to-back set Dec. 14 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In bypassing Saturday night’s game, Butler has now missed 14 of the season’s first 37 games: two in a row due to left-hip tightness in early November, seven in a row in late November due to right-knee soreness, and in December, one with a gastrointestinal illness, one with a sprained right ankle, and three due to injury management with the right knee.
Butler is earning $37.7 million this season, with three more seasons under contract to the Heat at $45.2 million, $48.8 million and then $52.4 million in 2025-26.
The team will meet Butler in Los Angeles, with a Monday night game against the Los Angeles Clippers and a Wednesday night game against the Los Angeles Lakers, before concluding the five-game trip Saturday against the Phoenix Suns.
Center Bam Adebayo made clear after the loss in Denver that he was not pleased with the 18-18 record the Heat took into Saturday night’s game.
“The thing about it, we don’t want to be mediocre. We don’t want to be in the middle of the pack,” he said, with the Heat entering Saturday in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, a playoff seed that would have them in the play-in round of the postseason.
The Nuggets shot a staggering .812 from the field in Friday’s fourth quarter to outscore the Heat 39-29 in the decisive final period.
“We pride ourselves in being able to find a way to win games with defensive stops going down the stretch and I can’t recall a stop in the last three or four minutes,” coach Erik Spoelstra said in the wake of the loss, with the Nuggets 13 of 15 from the field and 5 of 5 on 3-pointers in that fourth quarter, overcoming an eight-point deficit in the period. “I’m sure maybe there was one, but I just don’t remember it. It seemed like they were scoring or getting fouled on every single one of those possessions.”
With his third and final 3-pointer Friday, Duncan Robinson moved past Tim Hardaway’s Heat team career record of 806 3-pointers.
“I just feel very fortunate and blessed to get it,” he said. “A lot of people contributed to it, certainly not just myself. So I’m grateful for that. I’ll definitely take a second to just appreciate it.”
Spoelstra said it was a moment that deserved reflection.
“I mean, it’s not nothing,” he said. ” It’s pretty remarkable what he’s been able to do and how much he’s had to overcome with the different path to get to this point. I’m happy for him. And I know Timmy was happy for him. I just wish it could have led to a win.”
Adebayo said it’s meaningful that Robinson will further set a new record with each 3-pointer he converts going forward.
“It’s one of those things I always thought he could do and he achieved it,” Adebayo said. “So now he’s breaking his record every time he makes one.”