Gabe Vincent

Kyle Lowry To Miss Game 1 Of Eastern Conference Finals

Heat point guard Kyle Lowry has officially been listed as out for Game 1 against the Celtics due to his lingering hamstring injury, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets.

The news comes as no surprise since Lowry didn’t practice on Monday. Hobbled by the injury, Lowry has appeared in only five postseason games. He last took the court in Game 4 of the semifinals against Philadelphia, when he scored just six points with seven assists and four turnovers in 30 minutes on May 8.

Caleb Martin (ankle sprain), Max Strus (hamstring strain), P.J. Tucker (calf strain) and Gabe Vincent (hamstring strain) are listed as questionable, Chiang adds in another tweet. Most Heat players who have been listed as questionable throughout the playoffs have ended up being active.

Strus has been one of the breakout performers in the postseason. He averaged 19.5 PPG and 10.5 RPG in Games 5 and 6 against Philadelphia. Tucker averaged 8.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 1.7 APG in 30.7 MPG during the Sixers series while providing his usual hard-nosed defense.

Heat Notes: Tucker, Herro, Robinson, Rotation

Heat starting power forward P.J. Tucker, now 37, has been his usual pesky self on the defensive end against the Sixers, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. It’s been a huge boon for Miami, which currently leads Philadelphia 2-1 in the teams’ second-round playoff series.

“P.J. does what he does,” Sixers starting small forward Danny Green said. “We don’t back down. But you’ve got to play smart. Don’t take any cheap stuff. Don’t give any cheap stuff. Be just as physical as they are. We’re going to check people, get into bodies. Let them know we’re here too. We’re here to win. It’s the type of basketball you want to see.”

Jackson noted that Tucker’s repertoire included a litany of hard screens and rugged on-ball defense. The veteran Tucker, who won a title with the Bucks last year, signed a two-year, $15MM contract with the Heat during the offseason. Should he so choose, Tucker could try to capitalize on his successful playoff performance thus far: he has a player option on the 2022/23 season.

There’s more out of South Beach:

  • Heat Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro lit up the Sixers across Miami’s first two games in the series, both wins, scoring 43 points on 15-of-27 shooting. In response, the Sixers have opted to consistently trap the third-year guard, an issue for which Miami must now game-plan, writes Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “That’s a sign of great respect, how important Tyler is to us,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said of the new defensive attention.
  • Miami’s $90MM man Duncan Robinson has fallen out of the club’s rotation with the ascension of Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Victor Oladipo on the Heat depth chart. The veteran forward is striving to handle the demotion with a positive attitude, writes Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “It has been a challenge,” Robinson acknowledged. “But it comes with the territory. It’s part of being a professional.”
  • With the return of starting Heat point guard Kyle Lowry into the lineup, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel wonders if the moves of Oladipo and Vincent to the bench have hurt the reserves’ chemistry. Winderman postulates that Vincent may eventually feel the minutes squeeze as Lowry’s role increases.

Kyle Lowry Will Start Game 3 Against Sixers

5:33pm: Lowry is active and will start tonight, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

5:00pm: Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters, including Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel, that Kyle Lowry is nearing a return for Friday’s Game 3 against the Sixers.

The intention is for him to warm up and play,” Spoelstra said.

The 36-year-old point guard has missed the team’s last four playoff games after suffering a strained left hamstring in Game 3 of Miami’s first-round matchup with Atlanta. Lowry had previously been listed as questionable, but barring any setbacks, it sounds like he should be available.

Stylistically it will change things in the margins,” Spoelstra said of Lowry. “But obviously he’s a highly decorated, experienced, playoff-battle-tested guy. He’s the guy that all season long that we turned to get us organized, particularly in the moments of truth. You need as many guys that you can available during the playoffs, that goes without saying.”

Winderman adds that all of the other Heat players who were listed as questionableTyler Herro (ankle), P.J. Tucker (calf), Gabe Vincent (knee), Max Strus (hamstring), and Caleb Martin (ankle) — will be active on Friday.

Vincent had been starting in place of Lowry, and the team went 4-0 in his absence. If Lowry does play, he’s highly likely to return to the starting lineup, as he started all 63 of his regular season games, averaging 13.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 1.1 steals with a .440/.377/.851 shooting line.

Embiid Listed As Out For Game 3 But Status Could Change

Joel Embiid is listed as out for Game 3 against the Heat on Friday but the availability of the Sixers All-Star center could change before game time, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

With Miami up 2-0 and the series shifting to Philadelphia, Embiid must be listed as out since he’s still in concussion protocols, Kyle Neubeck of tweets. Listing him as “out” does not necessarily mean he will be sidelined for Game 3, but it means he hasn’t cleared protocols yet, Neubeck explains.

NBA injury list rules would allow the Sixers to update his status over the course of the day on Friday, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets.

Embiid suffered an orbital fracture and mild concussion when he was struck by Pascal Siakam in the late going of Philadelphia’s first-round clincher against the Raptors. The Sixers have been encouraged by Embiid’s progress this week.

The Heat have listed six players as questionable for Game 3, the team’s PR department tweetsKyle Lowry (hamstring), Tyler Herro (ankle), Caleb Martin (ankle), Max Strus (hamstring), P.J. Tucker (calf) and Gabe Vincent (knee) hold that designation but are all traveling to Philadelphia this afternoon. Lowry hasn’t played since Game 3 of the first-round series against Atlanta.

Southeast Notes: Unseld, Herro, Strus, Vincent, J. Johnson

Wes Unseld Jr. has been thrown into the deep end during his first year as an NBA head coach, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington, who notes that the Wizards have used a franchise-record 29 players in games this season.

Injuries, trades, and COVID-19 outbreaks have shaken up the Wizards’ roster, and Unseld himself missed multiple games when he contracted COVID. Despite having to deal with a somewhat chaotic first season in D.C., Unseld has tried his best to take it all in stride.

“With this being my first experience in this chair, in a weird way it’s the norm. I can’t compare it to anything,” Unseld told Hughes. “But it’s not lost on me that this has been a bizarre experience, just because of all the things that we’ve had to process and go through.”

Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who is out for the rest of the season while he recovers from wrist surgery, said he had “huge respect” for the way Unseld has responded to a challenging year.

“That’s tough on a coach, a first-year coach,” Beal said. “I’m very impressed with how well he’s handled the adversity.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • With Tyler Herro extension-eligible beginning this July, Keith Smith of Spotrac takes a closer look at what the guard’s next contract might look like and considers how much the Heat should be comfortable paying to lock up a player who is currently a sixth man.
  • Now that the Heat‘s roster is healthier than it has been all season, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent aren’t getting the same sort of consistent minutes they were earlier in the year. However, as Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes, the two reserves said they were prepared for that possibility, recognizing that the coaching staff needs to experiment with different lineups ahead of the postseason. “They got to play with things. They got to see what works, see what doesn’t work and try to get this chemistry going in a short span,” Vincent said. “I kind of knew it was coming. But you don’t really know how it’s going to go. You could only prepare for something like that so much.”
  • Nate McMillan‘s inclination to trust his veterans over rookies has meant there has been no NBA role this season for first-rounder Jalen Johnson, who has spent much of his rookie year in the G League. According to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, the Hawks are still very intrigued by the potential of Johnson, who was recalled today from the NBAGL with John Collins out, but it remains unlikely that he’ll see regular minutes this season.

Southeast Notes: Kuzma, Oladipo, Spoelstra, Hampton

Versatile Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma is enjoying his new opportunity as Washington’s highest-usage player following a trade from the only NBA team he had ever known, the Lakers, during the 2021 offseason, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Kuzma won a title as a key rotation player for Los Angeles in 2020.

“I’ve referred to him on a number of occasions as our Swiss Army knife,” Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Whatever we need in that moment, he’s capable of doing.”

The 6’9″ Kuzma is averaging 17.2 PPG, 8.7 RPG and 3.4 APG in 60 games for Washington, with shooting splits of .456/.342/.725.

“It’s been a great change of pace for me, a change of scenery,” the 26-year-old said of his new club. “I did as much as I (could) to maximize (myself) when I was with my former team, with changing my role every single year for the betterment of the team and trying to fit in with great players.

“But here, it’s been a lot different, because I don’t necessarily have to do that. My role has changed here. If you think about the first 25 games, I was in a different type of role than I am now: more scoring and just doing more things with the ball. It’s just great to be in a situation where I can just be myself and do what I do, and not dummy myself down.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Heat reserve guard Victor Oladipo returned to the court with Miami for the first time this season on Monday. He logged 11 points while shooting 4-for-7 from the floor in a 123-106 win over Oladipo’s former team, the Rockets. Oladipo called his return from a right knee quadriceps tendon surgery “everything I wanted and more,” per Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald. A former two-time All-Star and 2o18 All-Defensive First Team honoree for the Pacers, Oladipo returned with a 15-minute cap. He has appeared in just 53 contests since the beginning of the 2019/20 NBA season due to a variety of injuries. When asked about when the guard would exceed his current strict on-court time limit, head coach Erik Spoelstra was quick to establish that the club is taking a longer-term approach. “I’m going to temper those expectations,” Spoelstra said. “He’s been out a year. Three years of injuries. Fifteen minutes, that feel amazing to him and to everybody in the locker room. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves on anything else.” 
  • Now that Oladipo is back as a contributor on the hardwood for the Heat, Spoelstra looks forward to having to make some roster adjustments with his perimeter players, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. Miami guards Max Strus and Gabe Vincent rode the bench, until the game was well out of reach in the fourth, to accommodate Oladipo’s return. “Big shout out to Max and Gabe, who have been playing really well,” Oladipo said after the contest. “For them to sacrifice their minutes tonight, I know that’s not easy.” Spoelstra acknowledged the roster crunch but appeared to dismiss it as being an issue for team chemistry. “That’s for amateurs,” Spoelstra said. “Guys understand the opportunity with this group. It’s not all going to be perfect. Everybody is not always going to be happy, but we have a really mature group in this locker room… We have a bunch of guys who can fit in and impact the game. Max and Gabe didn’t play much, but they can come in and do the same thing.”
  • With rookie Magic guard Jalen Suggs missing Orlando’s last two games due to a right ankle sprain, second-year guard R.J. Hampton has been tasked with bigger-ticket defensive assignments, writes Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel. The 6’4″ guard may still be struggling on offense, as he is averaging 7.3 PPG on 38.4% field goal shooting this season, but he has exhibited plenty of promise on the other side of the floor.

Southeast Notes: Yurtseven, Todd, Anthony, Butler, Vincent

With the return of Bam Adebayo (thumb) and Dewayne Dedmon (knee), Heat center Omer Yurtseven has effectively fallen out of the team’s rotation for now, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes.

Yurtseven started 10 games as Adebayo and Dedmon dealt with injuries, logging double-digit rebounds in every contest. Miami went 7-3 during that stretch. On the season, the 23-year-old has averaged 6.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game, shooting 52% from the floor.

“It’s hard, obviously, because you catch that rhythm and you have that raging fire to just keep going,” Yurtseven said. “But I trust in the coaches and the Heat culture, and I believe if they want me and need me in the game that they know that I’m ready.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division today:

  • The Wizards suspended Isaiah Todd one game for conduct detrimental to the team, the club announced in a press release. Todd, who has been on a G League assignment for most of the month, served his suspension during the Capital City Go-Go’s game against the Ignite on Friday. The 20-year-old was selected No. 31 overall in last year’s draft.
  • Magic guard Cole Anthony is committing to the 2022 NBA Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Weekend, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Anthony has seen his role increase with Orlando this season, averaging 17.9 points on 39% shooting from the floor.
  • In a separate article for the Miami Herald, Anthony Chiang examines some takeaways from the Heat‘s Friday night victory over the Clippers. The Heat were led by Jimmy Butler, who finished with a game-high 26 points, as well as Gabe Vincent, who finished with 23 points in the absence of Kyle Lowry (personal). Lowry will also miss Saturday’s contest against Toronto, marking the seventh straight game he’s missed due to personal reasons.

Heat Notes: Herro, Silva, Oladipo, Vincent, Lowry

Heat guard Tyler Herro has exited the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, who tweets that Herro was in attendance at the team’s practice on Tuesday. Herro initially entered the protocols last Wednesday and has missed Miami’s last three games.

The Heat haven’t released their injury report yet for Wednesday’s contest vs. New York, so it’s unclear if Herro will be reactivated for that game or if he’ll need a little more reconditioning time. Either way, it’s good news for the Heat that they no longer have any players in the COVID-19 protocols.

Here’s more out of Miami:

  • Assuming Herro is able to play on Wednesday and no other players enter the health and safety protocols, the Heat will have to make forward Chris Silva ineligible for the rest of his 10-day contract, tweets Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Silva is on a hardship deal and can only be active if at least one Miami player is in the protocols. His contract runs through Sunday night.
  • Victor Oladipo, who is still recovering from quad surgery, moved around well on the Heat’s practice court on Tuesday, taking part in a “vigorous” workout and running without a limp, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Jackson suggests there’s a chance Oladipo could make his Heat debut in February. “He’s itching to get back,” Heat center Bam Adebayo said. “… We’ll see what happens. He’s starting to be at practice more and more. We’re starting to hear his voice and he’s starting to get opportunities to run in transition. When he’s able to suit up, it’s going to be a big day for all of us.”
  • There was some concern entering the season about whether the Heat had sufficient depth at point guard behind Kyle Lowry, but Gabe Vincent has proven capable of handling the position despite having previously played more of a combo guard or shooting guard role. “He has improved as much as anybody as I’ve ever seen, seriously, in my entire career. I really mean that, too,” Heat forward Duncan Robinson said of Vincent, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “I remember playing against him in the G League and honestly he kind of played like me. Catch-and-shoot and shooting threes. Obviously, he still shoots it at a high level. But he just does everything. He passes, he defends, he makes all those little plays in between. He’s just a guy that you love to play with, he really is.”
  • Lowry, who has missed the Heat’s last four games, remains away from the club for personal reasons, tweets Jackson, so Vincent is expected to continue starting at point guard.

COVID-19 Updates: Malone, Budenholzer, Hawks, Holiday, Marjanovic, Vincent, Nader

Two head coaches may clear health and safety protocols in time for their teams’ next games. Michael Malone traveled with the Nuggets to Oklahoma City and expects to be on the sidelines Sunday, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Malone missed four games while in the protocols, and acting coach Popeye Jones compiled a 2-2 record.

Darvin Ham, who is serving as acting head coach for the Bucks, is hoping Mike Budenholzer will be ready to return for Monday’s game at Charlotte, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic (Twitter link). Nehm suggests that Budenholzer still needs to return multiple negative tests before being cleared.

Here are more updates on COVID-19 and the health and safety protocols:

  • Hawks head coach Nate McMillan remains in the protocols, but assistant Chris Jent has been cleared and will serve as acting head coach for Sunday’s game against the Clippers, tweets Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Bucks guard Jrue Holiday tested out of the protocols, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. However, Holiday sat out tonight’s game because of pain in his left ankle.
  • Mavericks center Boban Marjanovic has cleared the protocols, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
  • Heat guard Gabe Vincent is out of the protocols, but isn’t with the team for tonight’s game in Phoenix, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). Marcus Garrett is the only Miami player remaining in the protocols.
  • Suns forward Abdel Nader has also cleared the protocols, tweets Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Nader is recovering from a knee injury and will have to go through reconditioning before he can play again.
  • Follow our Health And Safety Protocols Tracker for a complete list of how the virus is affecting the league.

Three More Heat Players Enter COVID-19 Protocols

P.J. Tucker, Gabe Vincent, and Zylan Cheatham have entered the health and safety protocols, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). As Chiang notes, there are now six Heat players in the protocols, with Tucker, Vincent, and Cheatham joining Kyle Lowry, Max Strus, and Udonis Haslem.

Tucker had already missed the last four games due to a left leg injury, but Vincent and Cheatham were two of nine players active for Miami on Tuesday.

With six players now in the protocols and four others – Bam Adebayo, Dewayne Dedmon, Victor Oladipo, and Markieff Morris – dealing with injuries, the Heat will need to make at least one roster move to ensure they meet the required minimum of eight players before their game on Wednesday in San Antonio.

The Heat are reportedly expected to add Kyle Guy on a 10-day contract, which will get them up to eight players as long as the other seven who were active on Tuesday are good to go on Wednesday. That’s not a given though — as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets, Jimmy Butler (ankle) and KZ Okpala (wrist) are banged up and may not be available. For what it’s worth, Okpala is currently listed as questionable, while Butler isn’t on the team’s injury report.

Miami is eligible to complete up to four more hardship additions, but it’s unclear how many more signings the team will be able to complete before tip-off tonight.