During the Miami Heat‘s thrilling season opener, there was a heart-stopping moment when newly-acquired point guard Kyle Lowry rolled on his right ankle and hopped off the court toward the locker room.
Thankfully, Lowry was able to return to the game and the Heat went on to crush the Milwaukee Bucks 137-95. Lowry, however, was ruled out during the Heat’s next tilt against the Indiana Pacers, and his absence did not go unnoticed.
The latest Heat news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Heat newsletter here!
Miami wasn’t able to keep pace without their six-time All-Star and lost 102-91 in overtime. During the postgame conference, Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra gave an update on Lowry’s injury status.
“Kyle won’t be out long,” Spoelstra said. “But if it’s games, more games, then we’ll just have to find a way to be more efficient.”
As for whether or not Lowry will be back when the Heat face the Orlando Magic on Monday, “I’m not going to make a prediction now,” Spoelstra said. “We’ll see how he feels and go from there.”
During Lowry’s first game in Heat jersey, he only scored five points but accounted for six assists. The six-time All-Star’s effect won’t show up in regular starts, but Lowry’s performance increased the pace of the entire team.
“Miami played at a pace of 113.8 possessions per 48 minutes with Lowry in the game compared to 100.1 possessions per 48 minutes when he was on the bench,” Miami Herald‘s Anthony Chiang reported.
Not Having a Solid Back-Up Point Guard was a Huge Concern Before the Season Started
While the Heat’s newly restructured roster looked fantastic on paper, the biggest concern was the fact that Miami didn’t have a solid back-up for their 35-year-old point guard.
The Heat used former two-way player Gabe Vincent to fill for Lowry on Saturday, but Spoelstra kept him on the bench during the game’s final 12 minutes. According to Heat center Bam Adebayo, there’s no scheme in place if Lowry is out for an extended period of time.
“I mean usually you don’t always have Plan B when somebody is out, especially somebody like Kyle, especially somebody with the starting unit,” Adebayo said, per Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman. “Now you have to bring somebody in and pick up that cohesiveness, that tempo with the starting unit.”
Guard Tyler Herro, who scored 30 points on 28 shots against the Pacers, wasn’t able to fill in for Lowry either, recording zero assists in 41 minutes of play. But it seems the Heat are going to be extra cautious with Lowry’s injury, as they want him to be 100% during the second half of the season.
“Without Kyle, things are much different,” Herro said. “He’s such a leader, and I’ve said it before, the way he constantly orchestrates everything for us offensively. He’s obviously a veteran that’s been in it for a while and is going to miss games, But we need him at the end of the year, for the most important games.”
“I’m just trying to learn as much as I can from him,” Herro continued, “so when he’s not playing, I can get in there and do the same thing he does, the game that he plays, get everyone to their spots and try to organize everything.”
Analyst Predicts Point Guard John Wall Eventually Lands in Miami
Just before the season started, Heat president Pat Riley made the surprising announcement that he’d be open to adding another player, even if it meant going over the luxury tax threshold. One that same day, The Athletic‘s David Aldridge predicted that Houston Rockets star John Wall would ultimately land in Miami.
Aldrige didn’t even offer up other possible landing spots. “Miami — after he negotiates a buyout from the Rockets,” he wrote. “Wall lives in Miami in the offseason, and the Heat is famous for extending careers of talented guys who’ve been slowed by injuries mid-career.”
Wall, a former No. 1 overall pick, has only played 113 games over the past four seasons due to a string of serious injuries. He sat out for the entirety of the 2019-2020 season with the Washington Wizards due to an Achilles tendon tear.
However, when the Kentucky alum is healthy, he’s still a beast on the court. Last season, averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists during his 40 appearances with the Rockets. And if the Rockets buy out his monster two-year $97.1 million contract, the Heat could absolutely make move to sign him.
Riley mentioned that he wanted to wait and see how the team performed before making any big moves, but perhaps seeing how the team did without Lowry was enough to convince him to finally add another point guard.