Heat star Jimmy Butler returned to practice Sunday and is poised to play against the Trail Blazers on Monday.
The Miami forward has missed the Heat’s past two games with left hip tightness, with the team going 1-1 in his absence.
“I think it’s good for us to be able to compete and have legitimate chances to win games while he was out,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But yeah he gives you a great emotional boost when he’s back. It was good to have him running around. He looked fully healthy to all of us. We’ll get him ready for tomorrow night.”
Butler has played in eight games, and averaged 21.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists this season.
Guard Tyler Herro is questionable for Monday’s game due to a left ankle sprain.
Miami’s fourth-year guard got a full day of work in during the Heat’s loss to the Indiana Pacers on Friday, playing more than 38 minutes and scoring 29 points.
So far this season, Herro is averaging 19.6 points and 6.4 rebounds.
Jovic ready to prove himself
Rookie Nikola Jovic made his NBA debut less than two weeks ago, but he’s already had to miss a game due to injury.
The Heat’s first-round pick did not travel with the team due to a nose injury he suffered in one-on-one practice, and he stayed in Miami to avoid flying with the injury. Jovic said he caught an elbow from Dru Smith during live play.
“One of our guys went for the layup, just hit me with an elbow,” Jovic said. “Nothing special, just live play. He didn’t do it on purpose.”
Spoelstra said if Miami’s game against Indiana was at home, Jovic likely would have been able to play.
“He was probably a little frustrated, confused why he couldn’t jump on a flight and meet us in Indiana,” Spoelstra said.
Watching the game from afar was frustrating for the rookie, who has played in three games so far this season.
“I want to be with the team,” Jovic said. “Thank God it was only one game. … Not being with the team is weird, especially being home while they’re all the way there. It was hard on me to watch it. Even though I don’t play that much, just being on the bench, just trying to help them as much as I can.”
In his limited time in the league, Jovic is averaging 7.3 minutes and 2.0 points.
“I’m happy because I’m in the NBA, especially because I got some playing time in three games. Just improving every day. I’m looking better, and when I get a chance, I’ll just do what I can to help us win.”
Oladipo, Yurtseven still out
Guard Victor Oladipo and forward Omer Yurtseven were both listed as out for Monday’s game.
Oladipo has not taken the court this season due to left knee tendinosis. Yurtseven has not played either due to a left ankle impingement.