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Kemba Walker minutes up, Jimmy Butler out in Celtics vs. Heat

Boston’s leading scorer will play more. Miami’s leading scorer won’t play at all.

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics will continue their ramp up to the playoffs against the Jimmy Butler-less Miami Heat, and to add to that, they’ll have a bit more firepower on their side.

Kemba Walker was limited to just 19 minutes on Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks in a 7-point loss, and that was upgraded to 22 mins in a 4-point win against the Portland Trail Blazers. With both games going down to the wire, it must have been frustrating for Walker to watch from the comfort of the bench. With his minutes restriction slowly easing up, he looks right on track to be fully back when the Celtics need him the most – the playoffs.

Walker has looked exceptional in his limited minutes, so it’ll be interesting to see how his production continues with expanded minutes. He scored 16 points in 19 minutes against Milwaukee on 56% shooting, and against Portland, he notched 14 points on 83% shooting. Pretty good, if you ask me.

The Miami Heat have gone 1-1 in the bubble just like Boston, but they face an uphill battle as Jimmy Butler is a late scratch with less than an hour before tipoff.

Butler has had an interesting saga in the bubble so far, with an “excused” absence that none of his teammates knew about on Sunday. Butler and the Heat are playing on the second end of a back-to-back with a loss yesterday against the Toronto Raptors. Butler turned the ball over in crunch time for Toronto to pull out the win behind Fred Van Vleet’s hot shooting.

The Miami Heat are 42-25 and sit 2.5 games behind Boston. A win tonight would put Boston in strong position to hold the 3 seed and play one of Miami/Philly/Indiana in the first round and Toronto in the second round. A loss tonight against the Butler-less Heat would be, uh, not good, and put the team in more danger of falling to fourth and playing Milwaukee in the second round.

The Celtics take on the Heat in a Miami “home game” at 6:30 PM EST on TNT.