The Eastern Conference finals begin tonight, but the Miami Heat won’t have starting point guard Kyle Lowry in the lineup against the Boston Celtics in Game 1 due to a hamstring injury. Backup Gabe Vincent will get the start for the Heat.
Lowry initially suffered the hamstring injury in Game 3 of the first round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks. He averaged 8.3 points, 5.3 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game for the Heat in that series.
Lowry returned for two games in the middle of the second round against the Philadelphia 76ers. In his first game back, Lowry didn’t score any points in a 20-point loss against the 76ers in Game 3. In Game 4, Lowry logged 30 minutes, scoring just six points in an eight-point loss. He struggled from the floor, shooting 3-for-10 and missing all six of his 3-point shots.
The Heat shut Lowry down for the remainder of the Eastern Conference semifinals, but still won their next two games, punching their ticket to the Eastern Conference finals.
During the regular season, Lowry averaged 13.4 points, 7.5 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game.
Lowry out, Vincent next man up
Head coach Erik Spoelstra will tap Vincent as the next man up in the rotation. Vincent averaged 6.8 points and 2.8 assists per game in the second-round series against the 76ers. However, Vincent averaged 9.8 ppg in his four starts. He also scored double digits in two of those four games as a starter.
“I know how badly Kyle wants to play,“ said Spoelstra. “He’s the ultimate competitor.“
With Lowry missing Game 1 of the Heat/Celtics, Spoelstra said there’s no timetable for his return.
Vincent earned accolades from many of his veteran teammates for his team-first mentality. He’s not one to gripe about playing time and will do whatever is necessary in any particular game.
“Gabe is probably the most selfless dude,” said teammate PJ Tucker. “That dude would go from starting and playing 30 minutes for months to not subbing in. He’s been through it all. He literally has played every position on this team throughout the year and been ready. He has the same attitude every day and gives the same effort every day. He’s unreal. One of my favorite teammates.”
The Celtics and Heat are meeting for the second time in the Eastern Conference finals since 2020. The Heat knocked the Celtics out that year inside the NBA Bubble in Orlando and advanced to the 2020 NBA Finals.
Coming into the 2022 Eastern Conference finals, the #2 Celtics are the favorite at -185 odds to win the series against the #1 Heat. Even though the Heat have home-court advantage, they’re +155 odds to win the series as the underdog.
The Heat are -2 favorites in Game 1 against the Celtics in Miami on Tuesday night.
Check out more of OG’s coverage of the 2022 NBA playoffs.