While back-to-back road games would typically mean a rest night for Miami Heat star Kyle Lowry, the veteran point guard said he wouldn’t let anything in the world keep him from playing against the Raptors on Sunday, April 3 — his first game in Toronto since taking his talents to South Beach last summer.
Lowry, who spent nine seasons with the Raptors, admitted that returning to Scotiabank Arena will be “emotional” for him. “I’ve tried to avoid for a long time thinking about it, but it’s right here,” Lowry said of his homecoming. “I’m looking forward to it, just being able to go to a place I’ve called home for so long and a place I still call home, that has a dear and special place in my heart.”
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While Toronto Mayor John Tory officially declared April 3 as “Kyle Lowry Day” to honor the man who’s considered the greatest Raptors player in franchise history, the team’s current head Nick Nurse, is ready for war on Sunday night.
Per Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang, Nurse said of Lowry’s return a few hours before tipoff, “I hope to God we ruin his night. We love him, there’s no doubt about that. But my job now is to kick his ass.”
The Heat star knew Nurse wouldn’t let him off easy, even if it was Kyle Lowry Day. “Let me be real,” Lowry said with a laugh. “Nick is not going to let me have a game, at all… Anybody that we played against didn’t have a good game. So I know what I’m expecting.”
Lowry Said He’s Excited for the Raptors’ Recent Surge in the Rankings
While the Heat currently sit in first place atop the Eastern Conference with a 50-28 record and have already clinched their spot in the playoffs, the Raptors are in the midst of making a strong surge to the postseason.
Toronto has won five straight games, including victories in 11 of their last 13 matchups, which has brought them to sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Lowry said he feels nothing but “excitement” for his former team. “I’m happy for those guys, because of the close-knit relationships that I have with those guys, the personal relationships that I’ve built around the organization,” Lowry said.
“Also, it’s a team, a franchise that I helped kind of build back up to a point where it’s a contending team, it’s a playoff-competitive team every year. So I’m happy and I’m just proud to have been a part of it.”
The Heat Will Be Without Head Coach Erik Spoelstra & a Slew of Key Players on Sunday Night
While the Heat recently found a strong winning starting lineup in Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Max Strus, P.J. Tucker, and Bam Adebayo, they will have to shake things up once more on Sunday night with numerous players hitting the injury list.
While the injury list was already concerning, things got worse for the Heat less than an hour before tipoff when the team announced that head coach Erik Spoelstra would miss the Raptors game due to health and safety protocols. Assistant coach Chris Quinn will once again fill in.
The Heat will take on the Raptors without six-time All-Star Jimmy Butler (left toe irritation), a huge blow considering the wing is averaging 21.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. Other players ruled out on Sunday night include Tucker (knee), Dewayne Dedmon (right ankle sprain), and Gabe Vincent (right big toe contusion).