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Instead of counting on Jimmy Butler to lead the team into the postseason, the Miami Heat will be in full collective-effort mode when they host the Chicago Bulls on Friday night in the loser-goes-home play-in game.

Butler will sit out with a sprained MCL in his right knee that was sustained during Wednesday's 105-104 road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Butler underwent an MRI exam Thursday that determined the severity. It is possible that Butler has played his final game of the 2023-24 season, whether or not the Heat win the pivotal game against Chicago.

"It felt like I couldn't do too much, which sucks with the timing of the game and everything," Butler said after the Philadelphia game. "I hope that I'm fine. ... Right now, I can't say that's the case."

The winner of the Miami-Chicago game advances to play the top-seeded Boston Celtics in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Butler was injured in the first quarter of Wednesday's game and remained in the contest. He finished with 19 points but was just 5-of-18 shooting.

His lack of effectiveness was noticeable in the second half. Butler took just two shots -- making one -- in the final quarter.

"I wasn't able to do anything on either side of the ball," Butler said. "I think I hurt us more than I helped us, actually."

The Heat also will need better efforts from Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo against the Bulls. Herro scored 25 points against Philadelphia but made just nine of 27 shots. Adebayo had just 10 points but did collect 12 rebounds.

The loss to the 76ers leaves Miami in a similar position as last season when the Heat lost their first play-in game (to Atlanta) before beating Chicago 102-91 in the second contest to reach the playoffs. The Heat eventually advanced to the NBA Finals before losing to the Denver Nuggets.

Miami finished with a 15-1 burst to overcome the Bulls last season.

"I remember that plane ride back home vividly," Chicago guard DeMar DeRozan said. "Everybody was just frustrated. That feeling sucked. I know for me, that's one thing that's on my mind once I realized we were going back to Miami -- to not have that same feeling."

The Bulls earned this trip to South Florida by virtue of a 131-116 victory over the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

Coby White poured in 42 points -- a career best, though the game won't count toward official stat-keeping -- to lead the way.

White also is fueled by last season's loss and felt this season's four games against Miami were highly contested. The teams split two two-game sets this season.

"It's going to be a junkyard fight, a dogfight," White said. "We know Miami, they know us. ... We have to come in ready to compete and leave it all on the floor."

Bulls guard Alex Caruso is questionable with a sprained left ankle. He sustained the injury when teammate Andre Drummond was running up court and stepped on his ankle. Drummond (left ankle) and Ayo Dosunmu (quadricep) also are questionable and played Wednesday despite their injuries.

Caruso is expecting his club to be ready for the task.

"We've got guys on the team when the lights come on and they are bright, they step up to the challenge," Caruso said. "I've had moments like that in my career; DeMar countless numbers. (Nikola Vucevic) has played playoff basketball."

"I think that's one of great strengths that we do have guys who can go off any given night. Coby's put in the work. It's not surprising for us because we know how good he can be and that's how confident we want him to play all the time."

Miami guard Terry Rozier (neck) also has been ruled out of Friday's game. This will be his sixth straight missed game.

--Field Level Media

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