Heat guard Kyle Lowry will not play Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics, Miami announced on Monday. The former All-Star and NBA champion has been battling a nagging hamstring injury that has plagued him for most of the playoffs.
Lowry, 36, has not played since Game 4 of the conference semifinals. He will miss his fifth game overall this postseason because of his hamstring. He re-aggravated the injury during his return to the court for games 3 and 4 in Philadelphia.
The Heat will likely turn once again to Gabe Vincent, 25, an undrafted player who has proved his mettle in Lowry’s absence.
Not only has Vincent averaged 7.5 points and nearly four assists in 24 minutes per night this postseason, but he has played superb defense against Trae Young and James Harden. With Lowry out and Vincent starting, former All-Star Victor Oladipo has re-emerged to run the Heat’s second unit, and is averaging 11.4 points and nearly 2.5 assists in the playoffs.
Lowry, who signed a three-year, $85 million contract with the Heat last summer precisely for moments like this, was injured in Game 3 of the first round against Atlanta. He averaged 13.4 points and 7.5 assists during the regular season. On Monday, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Lowry did some individual work on the side but was not able to participate fully at practice.
Game 1 between the Heat and Celtics is at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in Miami. Celtics star guard Marcus Smart is listed on Boston’s injury report as “questionable” with a foot injury.
These two teams last met in the conference finals in the 2020 NBA bubble. This season, Miami finished as the East’s top seed while the Celtics finished second, but the Celtics boasted the top defense in the NBA and were one of only four teams to be rated in the top 10 on offense and defense.
The Heat had the fourth-rated defense and led the NBA in 3-point shooting during the regular season.
(Photo: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)