Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler didn't join his teammates after halftime of Game 3 of the Heat's 109-103 win over the Boston Celtics on Saturday for a 2-1 Eastern Conference finals lead, while Marcus Smart returned from what initially looked like a serious ankle injury in the third quarter.
Butler was sidelined for the second half with the Heat citing knee inflammation. He played the first half without any apparent problem as Miami took a 62-47 lead into the break. He tallied eight points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in 20 minutes of play. It's not clear when his knee started to bother him.
Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported Butler's injury isn't considered serious and he likely won't miss additional time.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 22, 2022
He missed Game 5 against the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs with the same diagnosis. It's the same knee that required surgery in 2018 after Butler tore his meniscus as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Smart injures ankle, returns
Smart, meanwhile appeared to sustain a severe ankle sprain early in the third quarter before returning to the game moments later. The Celtics guard rolled his right ankle a minute into the third quarter after attempting to secure a rebound. He landed awkwardly alongside Heat guard Kyle Lowry, whose weight landed on Smart's leg as his ankle twisted.
Marcus Smart went back to the locker room with an apparent leg injury after a collision with Kyle Lowry. pic.twitter.com/VmdmbyIqG0
— ESPN (@espn) May 22, 2022
He needed help off the court and into the Celtics locker room, but returned to the court to a raucous ovation from the Boston home crowd with 6:52 remaining in the third quarter. The Celtics diagnosed Smart with a right ankle sprain.
— NBA (@NBA) May 22, 2022
He didn't appear to be hampered by the injury upon his return. He moved on the court without an obvious limp and connected on a 3-pointer within a minute of his return.
Marcus Smart drains it from deep just MINUTES after going to the locker room with an apparent ankle injury 🤯
10-point game in Boston! pic.twitter.com/pkoaORFmCm
— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 22, 2022
While Smart's return was cause for celebration in Boston, Butler's injury could be cause for concern in Miami. The Heat's best player, Butler secured his sixth career All-Star bid this season while averaging 21.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.6 steals in the regular season as Miami earned the No. 1 seed in the East.
He's stepped up his game in the postseason with averages of 29.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists and a league-best 2.2 steals in playoff play. He powered the Heat to a Game 1 win over the Celtics with 41 points, nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks.