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Jimmy Butler out vs. Mavs with back tightness, day-to-day

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NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Already down a starter in Joel Embiid (“load management”), the Sixers will be without another key player in tonight’s contest against the Dallas Mavericks. According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jimmy Butler has been declared out with back tightness for this evening’s game:

#Sixers SF @JimmyButler is out tonight vs. #Mavs with back tightness. He’s day to day moving forward. -@PompeyOnSixers

With the playoffs just around the corner and a sense that the Sixers haven’t completely optimized their rotation due to growing pains and roster turnover, it’s disappointing to see not one but two starters needing rest down the stretch. However, what is much more important is that Butler and Embiid are 100% healthy when the playoffs begin. It is also notable that the Sixers are now four games ahead of the 4th place Boston Celtics with only 6 games to play, and while that’s not an untouchable lead, it is hard to imagine Boston surpassing Philly.

Even short two starters, the Sixers are capable of defeating a traveling Mavericks squad. Luka Doncic may not be playing this evening, which evens out the absence of Butler a bit.