MIAMI—Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler missed Sunday afternoon’s game against the Heat as a result of the rib contusion he suffered in Friday night’s home win over Denver.
“I’ve felt better. I’m in a little pain, tough to breathe. So I can’t go this one,” he said before the game. “It’s just a bruise, no break, nothing like that. But it damn sure hurts.”
The injury occurred in the first quarter of the Bulls’ victory against the Nuggets, in which they set a season-high scoring total as a team.
“It was when [Nuggets point guard] Aaron Brooks tried to take charge. He fell and his knee was bent and my ribs came down on his knee when I hit the ground. It wasn’t a pleasurable moment,” Butler recounted. “Just everything kind of locked up whenever I extended. Just the movement, my body didn’t like it. I knew something was wrong.
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“I thought it was a possibility [his ribs were broken], the way I was feeling right when it happened,” he added. “But whenever I laid down and my body calmed down a little bit, it wasn’t as bad as it initially was.”
Butler said he could suit up in the Bulls’ next game, Tuesday in Atlanta.
“I look forward to it, to tell you the truth. I’m doing everything I can to get back out there. It’s crazy because right when I start to get into a rhythm, something like this happens,” he explained. “It’s how I wake up every morning. Day-to-day type stuff. I just have to get comfortable moving and breathing normal again.”
The injury is just the latest for Butler in a season filled with a litany of ailments for the third-year player.
“I haven’t missed a game, let alone this many games, in my career of ever playing basketball. It’s tough but I guess it’s part of it. I didn’t know it was part of it like this, but it is,” he said. I’ve never had anything wrong with my foot, my ankle, my ribs, nothing. But I guess there’s a first time for everything.”
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The player Butler would have likely been matched up with, reigning league MVP LeBron James, also sat out of the affair because of a broken nose suffered in Miami’s last game, a win over Oklahoma City, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra divulged before the contest.
“I didn’t know that. But I still would want to play, LeBron or no LeBron. I love this game and playing with these guys. I think I may help this team in some aspects of the game,” Butler said.
“We don’t play again until Thursday. So from that regard, we think the extra day will help,” Spoelstra said. “Take it day by day. See how he feels tomorrow. Go from there.”
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said James’ absence wouldn’t affect his team’s approach.
“Nah, not really. They’re a deep team. It’s the Heat and the Bulls,” he explained. “We know how good they are. We know how hard they play. We’re going to have to play hard and well.”