Heat Rumors

Herro Could Return For Game 2 On Sunday

Tyler Herro could return to action as soon as Game 2 of the Finals on Sunday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (video link).

The Heat guard has been sidelined since Game 1 of the first-round series against Milwaukee, when he broke his hand. He underwent hand surgery on April 21 and was expected to miss a minimum of six weeks.

Game 2 “looms as a possibility,” according to Wojnarowski, who added, “Can that hand take contact? When players come back from an injury like that, you’re going to have to be able to absorb contact.”

Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT reported after Miami eliminated Boston in the conference finals that Herro could be back by Game 3, which will take place on Wednesday. Herro didn’t provide a timetable earlier this week but said, “I’m going to be working out every day, twice, two, three times a day from here until the day I hopefully come back.”

Wojnarowski said if Herro doesn’t play in Game 2 that “barring a setback, there’s confidence Tyler Herro will be ready to return (in Game 3).”

Herro was the team’s third-leading scorer during the regular season at 20.1 points per game. He also averaged 5.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 34.9 minutes per game.  He’s a career 38.3% 3-point shooter and 87.5% free throw shooter.

Herro signed a four-year $120MM extension prior to this season that will kick in next season.

Poll: Which Team Will Win 2023 NBA Finals?

The 2023 NBA Finals, which tip off on Thursday night, will pit the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference against the No. 8 seed in the East, but the matchup may not be as lopsided as their places in the standings suggest.

Despite finishing the regular season as the West’s top team, the Nuggets weren’t considered a powerhouse entering the playoffs. They lost 10 of 17 games down the stretch in March and April and had only the sixth-best net rating in the NBA (+3.3) during the season. They also didn’t have a recent history of deep playoff runs, coming off a first-round elimination in 2022 and having made it beyond the second round just once in the Nikola Jokic era.

Denver has been the most dominant team of the postseason though, winning 12 of 15 games and posting a playoff-best +8.0 net rating during a run that saw them eliminate stars like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Anthony Edwards.

The Heat, meanwhile, battled injuries and inconsistency all season long, winning just 44 games and losing their first play-in game (to Atlanta) before completing a comeback victory over Chicago to claim the East’s final postseason berth. An early playoff exit appeared likely at that point, especially after sharpshooter Tyler Herro broke his hand in Game 1 of round one.

Instead, the Heat knocked off the title-favorite Bucks in five games, dispatched the Knicks in six games, and held off the No. 2 Celtics in a seven-game Eastern Conference Finals. Miami, whose +4.6 postseason net rating is second among all playoff clubs, has looked more like the team that came within one basket of making the NBA Finals in 2022 than the one that endured an up-and-down regular season.

The Heat may be a No. 8 seed – only the second in NBA history to make the Finals – but this is a battle-tested group that has significantly outperformed its regular season record and has plenty of playoff experience.

The Nuggets, who haven’t lost in Denver during the postseason and have looked like the NBA’s best team since the regular season ended, will have home-court advantage and enter the Finals as major favorites — BetOnline.ag has their odds to win the series at -405, with Miami listed as a +325 underdog.

Denver is also the popular pick among experts. John Hollinger of The Athletic laid out his reasoning for taking the Nuggets in six games, while a scout, a coach, and an executive who spoke anonymously to Sam Amick, Darnell Mayberry, and Josh Robbins of The Athletic all picked Denver in six too.

Over at ESPN, the Heat got a little more support, but 12 of 16 NBA reporters and analysts still chose the Nuggets to win the series, with only four – Bobby Marks, Israel Gutierrez, Nick DePaula, and Jorge Sedano – taking Miami.

The fact that the Nuggets are widely expected to come out on top will mean little to the Heat, who were considered even longer shots to beat Milwaukee or Boston. The Bucks were a -1200 betting favorite over Miami at the start of their series, while the Celtics were at -550.

With Game 1 set to tip off in a matter of hours, we want to get your predictions for this year’s NBA Finals. Will the Heat complete their improbable run and become the first No. 8 seed in league history to win a championship, or will Jokic lead the Nuggets to their first ever title?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts!

Heat Notes: Herro, Butler, Love, Vincent

Heat guard Tyler Herro may return at some point during the NBA Finals, but he has been officially ruled out for Thursday’s Game 1, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Herro has been sidelined since breaking two fingers in his right hand in Miami’s playoff opener on April 16. He underwent surgery five days later and has said that he’s targeting Game 3 next Wednesday as a possible return date.

Coach Erik Spoelstra explained that Herro still hasn’t participated in any contact drills, which are required before he can be cleared to return.

“He’s still just starting this process,” Spoelstra said. “We have a few days here to continue his work. I can’t make any proclamation until he makes these next important steps of contact and doing more on the court live. We’re all encouraged by his progress but still want to continue to be responsible and make the best decisions.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Jimmy Butler is very happy to be in Miami, calling his situation “a match made in heaven,” per Jackson. He credits Heat legend Dwyane Wade for encouraging him to join the franchise earlier in his career. “I’m not perfect, but I’m me,” Butler said. “My style of leadership works here. More than anything I have to give a shout out to D-Wade. He always told me this culture fits who I am and how I go about things. … I love it here and I hope to be here.”
  • Neither Kevin Love nor Cody Zeller played in Game 7 against Boston, but Spoelstra may need to use both big men while trying to match up with Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Jackson adds. Love said he didn’t object to Spoelstra’s decision to replace him in the starting lineup during the last two games of the Eastern Conference Finals. “It made perfect sense to me, honestly,” Love said. “I was eager and wanted to play and kept myself ready. But those matchups, how they took Robert Williams out of the starting lineup and decided to go small, that’s … how it works in the playoffs. I felt I made my impact in two games and maybe one quarter.”
  • Gabe Vincent talks to Sean Cunningham of KTXL about making his second trip to the NBA Finals and getting the opportunity to play this time (Twitter link).

Kings To Host 2023 California Classic Summer League

After ceding hosting duties to the Warriors in 2022, the Kings will once again host the California Classic Summer League this July, announcing today in a press release that the event will take place on Monday, July 3 and Wednesday, July 5.

The California Classic, which is held days before the league-wide Las Vegas Summer League, was launched by the Kings in 2018, and took place again in Sacramento in 2019 and 2021 before shifting to San Francisco in 2022.

In each of those four years, the Kings, Warriors, Lakers, and Heat were the only four teams to participate, but the event will expand to six teams this summer, and the two new additions are noteworthy: the Spurs and Hornets will also take part and are scheduled to face each other on July 3.

Given that San Antonio and Charlotte hold the top two picks in this year’s draft, we could see Victor Wembanyama and either Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller make their Summer League debuts in Sacramento, though it’s entirely possible Wembanyama won’t end up playing at all in July, as John Hollinger of The Athletic tweets.

Each team will play two games — one on the Monday and one on the Wednesday. The California Classic will essentially serve as an opening act for the Vegas Summer League, which will run from July 7-17 and will feature all 30 NBA teams.

Heat Notes: Herro, Butler, Haslem, Culture, Martin

Tyler Herro, who reportedly could be back as soon as Game 3 of the Finals after undergoing hand surgery last month, said he’ll do everything possible to get back in action, Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald report. The Heat guard suffered the injury during Game 1 of Miami’s first-round series against Milwaukee.

“I’m going to be working out every day, twice, two, three times a day from here until the day I hopefully come back,” he said. “So I’m always going to continue to work hard and see how my body responds day by day and try to come back as soon as possible.”

“There’s a little soreness in my hand still,” Herro added. “But it’s all just post-surgery scar tissue and stuff like that, that I’m trying to work through right now. I would love to come back for the Finals, but we’ll see how my hand feels.”

We have more from the Heat:

  • The way the team overcame Herro’s injury during the postseason is an example of its culture, according to Heat star Jimmy Butler (story via ESPN’s Nick Friedell). “When a guy goes down, the next guy could fill in that gap and do exactly what that guy that went down did — and do it at a high level,” he said. “Then be humble enough to know that when that guy comes back, you’ve got to take a step back and get back in your role. Nobody ever complains. They always do exactly what you ask of them to do, which is why you want to play with guys like that, which is why they are the reason we win so many games.”
  • Speaking of that culture, Udonis Haslem expounded on that subject in a feature from Marc J. Spears of Andscape’s. “I would like to say I am Heat culture. If you do it right, and you stay committed to the process, you don’t just speak it but it becomes a lifestyle,” he said. “And this is where you can end up. I have businesses around the city. I’ve played 20 years in the NBA. I put myself in the opportunity in a position where I can at least have the conversation about ownership. So, I think Heat culture applies in all walks of life.”
  • Caleb Martin came up one vote short of being named the Most Valuable Player of the conference finals. He’s come a long way from getting waived by the Hornets two years ago. That was the low point of his career, he told Spears. “That was worse than not getting drafted,” Martin said. “That was the first time where I felt that I wasn’t good enough. Being drafted or undrafted, there are only a certain amount of spots for [60] kids. But a team deciding to cut you because they feel like you can’t contribute to what they are trying to do, that hurt.”

Tyler Herro Targeting Game 3 Return

Heat guard Tyler Herro is ramping up his workouts and is aiming to return to action during the NBA Finals, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT, who tweets that Game 3 on June 7 is the likely target date.

Herro’s season appeared to be over when he broke his hand during Game 1 of the first-round series against Milwaukee. He underwent hand surgery on April 21 and was expected to miss a minimum of six weeks.

Miami’s stunning run to the Finals as an eighth seed has provided Herro with an opportunity to contribute in the Finals. Game 3 is slated for Wednesday, June 7.

However, Herro indicated after Miami’s Game 7 triumph in Boston on Monday that he’s still experiencing post-surgical pain in his right hand, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets. While Herro believes he’ll return in the Finals, a Game 3 comeback is no lock.

Herro was the team’s third-leading scorer during the regular season at 20.1 points per game. He also averaged 5.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 34.9 minutes per game.  He’s a career 38.3% 3-point shooter and 87.5% free throw shooter.

If Herro can return to action, coach Erik Spoelstra will have the pleasant dilemma of how to work him into a rotation that has proved so successful during the postseason.

Jimmy Butler Named Eastern Conference Finals MVP

Jimmy Butler has been named the Most Valuable Player of the Eastern Conference Finals, according to the NBA (via Twitter).

The Heat stymied the Celtics’ bid to become the first NBA team to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 3-0. Butler had 28 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals as Miami thumped Boston on the Celtics’ home court by a score of 103-84.

For the series, Butler averaged 24.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists as the eighth-seeded Heat continued their improbable postseason run. The only other No. 8 seed to reach the Finals was the 1999 Knicks. This year’s Finals will begin at Denver on Thursday.

Caleb Martin certainly made a strong case for Eastern Conference MVP with his 26-point, 10-rebound performance in Game 7. Martin averaged 19.3 points and 6.4 rebounds while making 48.9% of his 3-point attempts over the course of the series. Butler edged out Martin 5-4 in the voting by the media panel (Twitter link).

Celtics’ Brogdon Available For Game 7

Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon is available to play in Game 7 tonight against the Heat, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets.

That gives coach Joe Mazzulla another option as Boston attempts to become the first team in NBA history to erase an 0-3 playoff deficit.

Brogdon had been listed as questionable after missing Game 6 due to a right forearm strain. He only played eight minutes in Game 5.

Brogdon scored a combined 32 points in the first two games of the series. He averaged 16.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists in the second-round series against the Sixers and 13.3/3.7/4.3 against the Hawks in the opening round.

Heat Notes: Butler, Adebayo, Backup Centers, Vincent

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo understand that they need to play better for the Heat to win Monday night’s Game 7 in Boston, write Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Miami’s heartbreaking loss on Saturday featured wildly inefficient performances from its two stars, who combined to shoot 24.3% from the field. Even though he came close to a triple-double, Butler made just 5-of-21 shots and he took responsibility for the one-point defeat.

“Like I told the guys on the bench, I told the guys in the locker room, that if I play better, we’re not even in this position, honestly speaking,” Butler said. “And I will be better. That’s what makes me smile, because those guys follow my lead. So when I’m playing better, I think we’re playing better as a whole.”

Both Butler and Adebayo, who was 4-for-16, dismissed the idea that injuries are catching up to them. Butler suffered a sprained right ankle in the opener of the Heat’s second-round series, and Adebayo has been dealing with shoulder and hamstring issues.

“I see no excuses for that,” Adebayo said. “You know, when you want something as special as a championship, I feel like every guy in our locker room would go through a brick wall to get that.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Cody Zeller saw all the backup center minutes on Saturday as Kevin Love remained on the bench, Jackson and Chiang add. Neither player has been effective in the series, with the Heat getting outscored by 20 points in Love’s 61 minutes and by 21 points in Zeller’s 56 minutes.
  • Miami will make history one way or the other tonight, either as the first play-in participant to reach the NBA Finals or the first team in league history to lose a series after taking a 3-0 lead. Heat players insist they won’t be intimidated by that potential infamy as they approach Game 7, per Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. “You’re going to get the same test until you pass it, I swear,” Butler said, referring to last season’s Game 7 between the two teams. “We were in this same position last year. We can do it. I know that we will do it. … We have got to go on the road and do something special.”
  • Gabe Vincent is back on the Heat’s injury report, being listed as questionable for Game 7 with a sprained left ankle, Winderman tweets. Vincent was a game-time decision in Game 6, but he played 41 minutes and contributed 15 points and four rebounds.

Celtics Notes: White, Brogdon, Officiating Report, Mid-Range Shots

Derrick White saved the Celtics’ season with a game-winning putback just before the buzzer in Miami on Saturday night, but he also made a number of underrated contributions earlier in the game, Baxter Holmes of ESPN notes.

White’s teammates shot 6-of-8 off his passes for 12 points and he held the Heat to 1-of-12 shooting when he contested a shot. That includes an 0-for-6 performance by Jimmy Butler when White was his primary defender in Game 6.

White has two years left on his four-year, $70MM contract.

We have more on the Celtics:

  • Guard Malcolm Brogdon is listed as questionable for Game 7, Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets. Brogdon suffered a right forearm strain that limited him in Game 5 and forced him to miss Game 6.
  • The NBA officiating report stated the timing on allowing three seconds to remain after Butler was fouled by Al Horford was correct, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets. The officials added 0.9 seconds to the clock after a review. The report says the only incorrect calls in the last two minutes were a missed foul by Gabe Vincent against Jayson Tatum and a lane violation on Miami’s Caleb Martin.
  • Mid-range shots played a key role in Game 6 as the Celtics made only 7-of-35 three-pointers and forced just five turnovers, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe observes. Based on the NBA.com shot chart, the Celtics connected on 12-of-19 shots inside the 3-point line and outside the restricted area, while the Heat were just 6-for-28 in that area.