Heat Notes: Lowry, Starting Lineup, Strus, Butler

Heat guard Kyle Lowry (hamstring) didn’t practice with the team on Sunday, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. Lowry was with the team for practice, but he didn’t participate. As Jackson notes, this doesn’t bode well for his status this week, as the Eastern Conference Finals will tip off on Tuesday.

Lowry suffered a hamstring injury in the first round against Atlanta. Last round, the Heat went 4-0 against the Sixers without him and 0-2 with him, but he was playing through the injury in his two games. Lowry ranked fourth on the team in scoring (13.4 points per game) and first in assists (7.5 per game) this season.

With Miami playing Boston next round, the team could use Lowry as an offensive option, as the Celtics are viewed as one of the league’s elite defenses. The Heat will likely continue to rely more on Gabe Vincent, Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo until Lowry returns.

Here are some other notes from Miami:

  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines whether playing Lowry off the bench is a viable option. The Heat have started Vincent in place of Lowry and may not want to impact its ongoing chemistry, but Lowry started in all 63 of his regular season games this season. Aside from being a better player, Lowry also holds more playoff experience than Vincent does, making a move to the bench seem unlikely.
  • Max Strus has played a key role in the team advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press writes. Strus finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds in Game 5 against the Sixers last round, then recorded 20 points and 11 rebounds to win the series in Game 6. “It’s one of the biggest moments, not only in my career, but in my life,” Strus said. “This is the moment you want to be in being a basketball player and doing what we do for a living. And I’m super excited and want to start [next series] tomorrow.”
  • Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald explores how most advanced metrics say Jimmy Butler has been the best player in the playoffs. Butler’s traditional stats have also been superb, as he’s averaging a career-high 28.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. He has also shot 52.5% from the floor and 36% from three-point range, leading Miami to an 8-3 postseason record.
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