Phoenix Suns vs. Miami Heat Pick & Prediction JANUARY 5th 2024

The Phoenix Suns are still awaiting word on Kevin Durant’s prognosis, but the Miami Heat know Jimmy Butler will again be sidelined when the two teams meet Friday night in Phoenix.

Butler is out for the seventh time in the past eight games, with Friday’s game making three straight absences. He missed four games due to a calf injury and the past three because of a toe ailment.

The only time Butler has played in the past 2 1/2 weeks was in a 117-109 loss to the Utah Jazz on Dec. 30.

The Heat are 5-1 in the six games Butler has missed during the stretch. The contest in Phoenix is the finale of a five-game road trip.

Durant has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, and his availability will likely be determined on Friday.

Suns coach Frank Vogel said Durant did some non-contact work during Thursday’s practice while also working with trainers.

Vogel didn’t have much insight on Durant’s availability for Friday.

“I don’t have an update for him right now,” Vogel said. “He’s making progress, he’s getting closer.”

Phoenix had a four-game winning streak halted Wednesday when it was outclassed 131-122 by the visiting Los Angeles Clippers.

The Suns struggled on the defensive end against the Los Angeles Big Three of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and James Harden. The Clippers shot 55.3 percent from the field and made 18 of 34 shots from 3-point range.

Phoenix tried to keep pace with the Clippers despite not having Durant but never led in the contest and trailed by as much as 23. The Suns were 15-of-35 from 3-point range while trying to catch up.

“Really proud of how we competed — we didn’t give up on the game,” Vogel said. “That’s a positive attribute for our team. I’m more concerned with how we started defensively. I don’t think we had the necessary disposition to guard an elite offense.”

Devin Booker had 35 points and six assists and Bradley Beal scored 21 points for the Suns.

Booker was greatly disturbed by the start, in which Phoenix was down 30-13 less than nine minutes into the opening quarter.

“We’ve got to start games better and with a sense of urgency. Be ready for the fight,” Booker said. “We were fighting uphill the whole game. We showed some things in the second half, what it looks like when we turn up the energy and intensity.”

Miami improved to 2-2 on its road excursion with a 110-96 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Tyler Herro scored 21 points and rookie sensation Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 16.

One of the key players for the Heat was Duncan Robinson, who scored 11 of his 13 points in the final quarter. Robinson made three treys in the quarter as Miami outscored the Lakers 38-29.

“Tonight was a better-late-than-never situation. I was pretty non-existent for three quarters but came around and kept on letting it fly,” Robinson said afterward. “It was a good fourth. We had good activity on both ends and made it difficult for them to guard.”

In the first three quarters, Robinson was 1-of-7 from the field and missed all six of his 3-point attempts.

“Duncan’s first half 3s were more wide open than the one that he hit in front of their bench at the end of the clock,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think that’s where he’s dangerous. He’s ignitable. He sees one go and I think that’s where it changed for him.

“We ended up basically running our offense through him and Bam (Adebayo) on the catch-and-shoot off ball movements in the fourth quarter because of that.”

The Heat defeated the Suns in both of last season’s meetings.

–Field Level Media

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