Apr 19, 2024 - News

Playoff previews: Heat lose Butler, Panthers face Tampa Bay

Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat looks on during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2024 NBA Play-In Tournament

Jimmy Butler during Wednesday's loss to Philadelphia. Photo: David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Miami Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler is expected to miss several weeks following a knee injury sustained in Wednesday's Play-In Tournament loss, ESPN reports.

The latest: Butler has been ruled out for Friday's Play-In game against Chicago, which will determine whether Miami makes the NBA Playoffs or goes home for the summer.

  • An MRI on Butler's knee found a right MCL sprain, the Heat announced Thursday.

What we're watching: The Heat take on the Bulls Friday (7pm, ESPN) to decide the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

  • The winner will advance to the playoffs and face the No. 1 seed Boston Celtics in a first-round series beginning Sunday afternoon.
  • Friday's game is at the Kaseya Center. Tickets start at $22.
  • The Bulls are 3–2 against the Heat this season.
Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo #70 of the Ottawa Senators defends the net against Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Florida Panthers at the Amerant Bank Arena on April 9, 2024 in Sunrise, Florida.
Matthew Tkachuk of the Florida Panthers attacks the goal. Photo: Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

🏒 In other sports news, the surging Florida Panthers enter the Stanley Cup playoffs on Sunday on a four-game winning streak and in first place in their division.

The Panthers are also at home on Sunday for Game 1 of a first-round playoff series against their Florida rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning (12:30pm, ESPN).

  • Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk, named one of the top 10 players in this year's playoffs by ESPN, made us all hockey fans last year with his electrifying overtime game-winners.
  • Florida made it to the Stanley Cup Final last year, but will go up against a Tampa Bay team that has actually won the championship three times.
  • Florida and Tampa Bay have played twice in the playoffs, in 2021 and 2022, with the Lightning winning that match-up both times.
  • This season, Florida beat Tampa Bay in two out of three matchups.

🥹 Flashback: The Heat and the Panthers gave South Florida some great memories last year as two No. 8 seed underdogs that clawed their way to the championship stage.

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