Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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NBA Preview: Miami Heat (31-25) at Sacramento Kings (33-23)

The Miami Heat seek a fourth straight win in a third different time zone but will have to do so without at least two key players on Monday when they visit the Sacramento Kings.

Heat star Jimmy Butler was one of five players suspended by the NBA after having been involved in a skirmish during Friday’s 106-95 road win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Miami’s Thomas Bryant and New Orleans’ Jose Alvarado got the harshest penalties for having left the bench to get involved in the fight. Each will miss three games, which for Bryant, a seldom-used backup center, means sitting out all the remaining games on the Heat’s trip.

After dealing with the Kings, Miami will head to Portland and Denver before returning home to face the Utah Jazz on Saturday.

Miami’s winning streak sandwiches the All-Star break, before which the Heat won at Milwaukee and Philadelphia. Butler missed those games for personal reasons.

He returned after the break for the win over New Orleans, contributing 23 points.

Jovic, who had scored 24 points in the streak-opening win at Milwaukee, drew his suspension, according to the NBA, “for leaving the bench area and entering an on-court altercation.”

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra disagreed with the league’s action against Butler.

The Heat might also be without Tyler Herro, who had to leave the New Orleans game after hyperextending his left knee. He was scheduled for an MRI on Monday, and temporarily was slapped with a “questionable” tag.

The Kings have no such bad news, other than they might be a bit tired after opening a back-to-back with a 123-107 road win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night.

Domantas Sabonis had his league-leading 20th triple-double of the season in the win, something that didn’t go unnoticed by teammate Harrison Barnes.

Like the Heat, Sacramento will take a crack at a fourth straight win, having won at Denver leading into the break before returning from the time off to outlast the San Antonio Spurs at home on Thursday and then the Clippers on Sunday.

The clubs will be meeting for a second and final time this regular season, with the Heat having earned a 115-106 triumph in the earlier head-to-head on the final day of January behind 31 points from Butler.

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