Jimmy Butler officially out with MCL sprain, Alex Caruso questionable for Bulls vs. Heat play-in game

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers
NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers

As expected, Jimmy Butler is out for Miami's play-in showdown against Chicago on Friday night, but the Bulls may have Alex Caruso after all.

Butler underwent an MRI on Thursday, and has been diagnosed with an MCL sprain. Terry Rozier is also out for the game (neck injury), which leaves the Heat without their two best shot-creators in the halfcourt.

While the Heat did not give a timeline, an MCL sprain implies at least a couple of weeks of recovery. Meaning, if the Heat beat the Bulls on Friday night and advance to the playoffs, he would likely miss at least the first few games against the Boston Celtics (if not the entire series).

Butler was injured in the first quarter of the loss to the 76ers, when his pump fake got defender Kelly Oubre Jr. up in the air, but Oubre fouled Butler on the way down, then fell on his leg. Butler stayed in the game — with what has been reported as an MCL injury, but there is no confirmation of that and Butler's agent pushed back on that early reporting — but was not himself, shooting 5-of-18 for the game and becoming less effective as the game went on.

Early reporting said Alex Caruso suffered a "significant" left ankle injury, however he is now listed as questionable and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski now reports there is "increased optimism on his chances to play vs. Heat on Friday." This is expected to be a game-time decision, but if Caruso can go it is a big boost for the Bulls, who could use his elite perimeter defense on players such as Tyler Herro (who now will have far more shot creation responsibility, along with Jaime Jacquez Jr.).

Caruso was injured when his teammate, Andre Drummond, ran into him.

Miami will host Chicago in a win-or-go-home play-in game Friday night. The winner advances as the No. 8 seed to take on Boston while the loser can book a trip to Cabo, their season is done.