The Miami Heat will be without star forward Jimmy Butler for at least two more games due to a sore right knee. He sat out of the team's overtime loss to the Washington Wizards on Friday night along with half of the roster and will not play in the remainder of the team's road trip, which includes match-ups with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves.
At this time, this seems more like general maintenance for Butler than anything serious. He's one of the most physical and hardest-working players in the league and often misses short stretches here and there in order to get through the season and be ready for the playoffs.
But while absences like this have become commonplace for Butler, the Heat have usually been in better position to weather them. That's not the case this season, as the team is 7-9 and currently outside of even the play-in tournament in the Eastern Conference. Even with a healthy Butler this does not appear to be a 50-win team, and without him they have been a mess, particularly on the offensive end. When Butler is on the floor, their offensive rating is 118.1, compared to 98.5 when he sits.
Through 12 games this season, Butler has been his usual self, contributing in all facets of the game. He's averaging 20.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game, making him one of just nine players putting up at least 20/6/6 a night. And among those players, only Steph Curry and Nikola Jokic have been more efficient than Butler, who sports a 61.7 true shooting percentage.
Again, this doesn't seem like a long-term issue and you would expect Butler to return to the court next week when the team is back at home for a mini two-game series against the Wizards. However, any game he misses this season are bad news for the Heat, and if they can't find a way to steal one of the two remaining on this road trip they could be in real trouble as we hit the quarter-way mark.