Heat star Jimmy Butler injures knee, status in doubt vs. Bulls


April 18 (UPI) -- Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler sustained a right knee injury in an NBA play-in tournament loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, putting his playing status in serious doubt for Friday's elimination game against the Chicago Bulls.

Butler told reporters after the 105-104 setback Wednesday in Philadelphia that he will undergo an MRI on Thursday to determined the extent of the issue. Sources told ESPN and The Athletic that Butler is feared to have sustained an MCL injury.

"I fell, he landed and my knee just didn't do well, I guess," Butler told reporters. "I don't know. It's not a good feeling, I can tell you that."

Butler sustained the injury with just 1.5 seconds left in the first quarter of the loss. Butler attempted a bank shot and was landed on by 76ers forward Kelly Oubre Jr. after planting his right leg. He then grabbed his right knee, grimaced and rolled on the floor, showing obvious signs of pain.

Butler stayed in the game and made the first of two free throw attempts. He also played for the remainder of the night, scoring 19 points over 39:39.

"I hope that I'm fine," Butler said. "I hope I wake up [Thursday] and I can still stick and move. Right now, I can't say that's the case."

Butler said he "wasn't able to do anything on either side of the ball." He also said he thought he hurt the Heat, more than helping them, because of his injury.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the knee "really stiffened up on" Butler in the second half.

"He was able to still move a little bit in the second quarter, but as the second half went on, it started to limit him a little bit more, just the movement," Spoelstra said. "But we'll see. We have no idea right now. We will see when we get back to Miami."

Star center Joel Embiid totaled 23 points, 15 rebounds and five assists to lead the 76ers to the win, helping them secure the No, 7 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Bulls beat the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday in the other NBA play-in tournament game.

They will face the Heat at 7 p.m. EDT Friday in Miami to determine the No. 8 seed and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We'll do this the hard way," Spoelstra said of the Heat's playoff path. "That has to be the path right now. We are going to rest up. Treat up. Rally around each other and get ready for Friday."