Kyle Lowry has managed to stay healthy for most of the season, but the Miami Heat’s starting point guard is now dealing with an injury that could force him to miss playoff time.
Lowry is listed as doubtful for Game 4 of the Heat’s first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday at State Farm Arena (7 p.m., TNT and Bally Sports Sun) due to left hamstring strain that suffered in Game 3. The Heat’s series lead fell to 2-1 after they lost a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in Friday’s 111-110 loss to the Hawks in Atlanta.
“I’m pissed. I wish I was there,” Lowry said Saturday afternoon after missing all of the fourth quarter in Friday’s loss. “I feel like if I was there, the situation would have been different. But I wasn’t there. I trust my teammates. The Hawks had a great run.
There’s cautious optimism from those around Lowry that the hamstring injury isn’t too serious, but he didn’t participate in Heat practice Saturday afternoon at State Farm Arena. Lowry, 36, strolled gingerly in a tracksuit as the team carried out the practice session.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called Lowry “everyday”.
“We’ll see how I feel tomorrow,” Lowry said, holding out hope that he could possibly play on Sunday. “I took the treatment pretty much all day. I did a treatment this morning. We’re going to talk to the doctor and we’re all going to be on the same page, and see how I feel day to day.
Although Lowry wants to get over the pain, he made it clear that he understands “I have to be smart” and “me and my team, the doctor, we all have to be on the same page and all in agreement.” ”
Lowry said he couldn’t “identify the exact time” the injury happened, but it happened at some point during the third quarter just minutes before he was substituted on Friday with 1:59 to play in the period. He didn’t return and spent the entire fourth quarter watching from the bench.
Lowry has only missed one regular season game due to injury in his first season with the Heat, as the other 16 games he has missed have been due to COVID-19 protocols, personal reasons or rest. A sprained left ankle forced him to miss the second game of the season, and he then missed two games due to COVID-19 protocols, 13 games for personal reasons and three games off.
The last time Lowry missed playoff time was when a sprained ankle forced him to sit out two games of the 2017 Eastern Conference Semifinals as a member of the Toronto Raptors.
“I don’t think it reminds me of that, because it was two different injuries,” Lowry said when asked if his last injury brought him any flashbacks to 2017. “It was a bit more serious , I think. But, like I said, it hasn’t even been 24 hours. So, I’ve had treatment the whole time and we’re honestly going to take it hour by hour and go from there.
Lowry recorded six points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field, four rebounds and five assists in 23 minutes before leaving the Heat in Game 3 late in the third quarter.
The good news for the Heat is that they won most of the games Lowry missed in the regular season, going 12-7 in those situations.
The bad news for the Heat is that they didn’t fare well when Lowry was off the court in the first three playoff games. Miami edged Atlanta by 27.8 points per 100 possessions with Lowry in the game, while the Hawks edged the Heat by 20.4 points with Lowry off the court in the first-round series.
Among Lowry’s biggest contributions to the series so far is his defense against Hawks star goaltender Trae Young. Only Gabe Vincent and PJ Tucker spent more time than Lowry as Young’s primary defenseman in the first round, with Lowry limiting Young to 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting from the field on 42 possessions during the series.
If Lowry can’t play in Game 4, the Heat will have to find a way to survive without him. Miami is two wins away from advancing to the second round.
“We’ll find out,” Spoelstra said. “You know, the one thing about this team is we’ve had a lot of different variations in our rotation throughout the year. We’ve been able to respond and win with different guys.
Without Lowry in the Game 3 stretch, the Heat played Vincent in his place for 6:23 of the fourth quarter. But Miami closed out the game without a traditional point guard on the court, using a formation of Tyler Herro, Max Strus, Jimmy Butler, PJ Tucker and Bam Adebayo for essentially the final six minutes of the fourth period.
Vincent and Herro are options to start in place of Lowry if he misses Sunday’s game. Adebayo made it look like Vincent would start if Lowry couldn’t play in Game 4.
“Vincent has grown through this season, especially with Kyle in his ear,” Adebayo said. “It made him a better playmaker, a better player. I’m happy for Vincent. This is his moment and he will kiss her.
If Spoelstra opts to keep the bench rotation intact, guard Victor Oladipo is another option to take Lowry’s place in the starting lineup. Oladipo, who made his season debut on March 7 after an 11-month recovery from surgery to repair the quadriceps tendon in his right knee, has yet to play in the series after dropping out of rotation during the last weeks of the regular season.
“I have everyone on my mind right now,” Spoelstra said when asked about the possibility of playing against Oladipo. “There will be a lot of different directions. But we’ll see. I don’t even know what the determination is right now. We’re talking about a lot of assumptions.
Whatever happens, Lowry said he would “trust the medical advice” and “give her a rest.”
This story was originally published April 23, 2022 3:38 p.m.