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Heat awaiting word on Jimmy Butler’s status after tweaking ankle

Jimmy Butler said it feels “like a rolled ankle.”

With 5:05 left in Game 1 against the Knicks and the Heat up three, Jimmy Butler tried to drive the lane, Josh Hart slipped and inadvertently kicked Butler in the ankle, and Butler went down. He was on the ground in pain for a couple of minutes but shot his free throws and stayed in the game, mainly serving as a decoy the rest of the way in the Heat’s Game 1 win.

Heat nation and players are awaiting word on Butler’s status for Game 2, in New York Tuesday night.

“You just don’t know with ankle sprains,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said postgame. “I don’t even know if we’ll know more by tomorrow. We’ll just have to see. It’ll be a waiting game.”

Expect Butler to be a game-time decision on Tuesday (Miami will not tip its hand even if it knows the answer.) With Tyler Herro still out with a fractured hand, the Heat are low on shot creators and, without Butler, the task would fall to players not able to do it had a high level anymore (Kyle Lowry) or guys not built to be a No.1 playoff option (Bam Adebayo, Gabe Vincent). Miami’s offense would struggle, particularly against a strong Knicks defense.

With the series taking a three-day break after Tuesday’s Game 2 (Game 3 is Saturday), Miami may sit Butler for Game 2 thinking they can buy a week of rest for the ankle (plus, the Heat already stole a game on the road in Game 1). Or, maybe Butler plays knowing he has three days after this one to get right. The Knicks will get Julius Randle back at some point this series — his status for Game 2 also is unknown due to a sprained left ankle — and they become much more formidable with him.

We will update this story as more information on Butler’s status becomes available.