Chicago Bulls

Bulls respect Heat, with or without Jimmy Butler

Former Bull and multiple time All-Star could miss Friday's game with right MCL injury

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

Heat Culture is a thing even inside the Chicago Bulls locker room.

And that's why, with Thursday's news that Jimmy Butler would miss Friday's game and possibly multiple weeks with a right MCL injury, the Bulls still know they have to play well on Friday to beat the Miami Heat.

"They have a culture," Coby White said. "Whoever steps up in his spot, they’re not going to bring everything he does because he’s an All-Star. But Miami is one of those teams that when you play them, you know what to expect. They play hard. They play physical. They don’t quit. They always keep coming and bringing energy."

The Bulls played with that same style in Wednesday's impressive home victory over the Atlanta Hawks. And they could be without Alex Caruso, who re-aggravated his nagging left ankle injury but vowed late Wednesday to try to play Friday.

With the No. 8 seed and a first-round playoff matchup against the Boston Celtics at stake, the Bulls know they have an opportunity to avenge last season's Play-In loss in Miami on April 14, 2023.

"We know what they do," Ayo Dosunmu said. "We know how physical the play. Both teams are hungry for a spot in the playoffs. We know last year we came up short. Now we have another opportunity. We’re going to embrace that and try to make that happen."

Butler suffered his knee injury on the final play of the first quarter in the Heat's loss on Wednesday in Philadelphia. He played the final three quarters on the injury but shot 3-for-14.

"It sucks to see anybody get hurt," DeMar DeRozan said.

Caruso was in good spirits postgame after undergoing treatment on the left ankle injury that knocked him out of Wednesday's game early in the third quarter. He said his mindset always is to try to play until his body tells him he can't.

That's Butler's mindset too, which makes his injury such a blow for the Heat.

"He's one of the great competitors this league has," Caruso said. "He turns this time of year into his time. If he can't go, that would be a big loss for them because he's kind of the head of the snake, the heartbeat for them. But they still have plenty of talented and capable guys who can play.

"Obviously, whether he's in or out will change a little bit for us what we do. But still respect the Miami Heat and what they bring."

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