The Miami Heat (2-1) are looking to make a statement in Game 4 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, April 24, however, they will have to do so without the help of starting point guard Kyle Lowry, who was officially ruled out an hour before tipoff.
Losing Lowry is a huge blow for both the Heat’s offense and defense, but there’s a reason Miami entered the postseason as the No. 1 seed – they have depth, and numerous players ready to be the next man up to fill in for the six-time All-Star.
The latest Heat news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Heat newsletter here!
While fans are begging for Victor Oladipo to get the nod, as the last time he got to play, the guard put up 40 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, and two steals on April 10 against the Orlando Magic — Heat star Bam Adebayo was quick to shut down those hopes.
Adebayo made it abundantly clear that the team’s de facto fill-in for Lowry would be Gabe Vincent. He’s “grown throughout this whole season, especially having Kyle in his ear,” Adebayo said, per Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman.
“It’s made him a point guard, better player. I’m excited for Vincent. This is his moment and he’ll embrace it. He’s become our second-best point guard on the team. In that regard, we just take K-Low’s responsibility and just hand it to Vincent. I feel like he’s very prepared for that.”
Last week, Lowry also spoke highly of Vincent and how far he’s come in the league. “Now, getting significant minutes is big… I think Gabe is gonna be a hell of a point guard in this league,” Lowry said.
Adebayo spoke the truth. When the Heat officially announced the starting lineup for Game 4 on Sunday night it was Vincent, Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, P.J. Tucker, and Max Strus.
Oladipo Says He Has ‘No Expectations’
Based on Oladipo’s recent comments, Adebayo’s statement will not come as a surprise for the two-time All-Star. Oladipo, who spent nearly the entirety of the regular season recuperating from quadriceps surgery he underwent last May, has yet to record any minutes during the first three games of the Heat’s playoff series.
“It’s always tough,” Oladipo said of not playing, per Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang. “Playoffs, regular season, it’s tough. I want to be out there competing, helping the team win. But at the end of the day, I’m just focused on what I can control and whatever the coaching staff needs me to do to help us win, that’s what I’m going to do.”
“I stay in the moment,” the 29-year-old guard continued. “I don’t look too far ahead and I don’t look back. I just stay in the moment. That’s what I was doing in Orlando. I didn’t have no expectations after that. But if my number is called, I’m going to go out there and play my game to the best of my ability.”
While Vincent appears to be the shoo-in to get the start in place of Lowry, there’s still a solid chance Oladipo will come off the bench and get a chance to play.
Adebayo Is Confident Lowry Will ‘Bounce Back’ Soon
While Adebayo has full confidence in Vincent, he’s confident Lowry, who suffered a hamstring injury in Game 3, will be back on the court sooner than later.
“I feel like he’s going to bounce back,” Adebayo said. “He’s one of those dudes who knows how to take care of his body, he knows himself and his body. So it wouldn’t shock me if he’s back out here soon.”
Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra said on Saturday that Lowry was considered “day-to-day” but the veteran point guard called himself more “hour-to-hour.”
“We’ll see how I feel tomorrow,” Lowry said on Saturday, despite not being to participate in practice. “I’ve been doing treatment pretty much all day. I’ve done some treatment this morning.”
While Lowry is gunning to get back on the court as soon as possible, noting that the outcome of Game 3 would’ve been different if he was out there playing in the fourth quarter, “I’ve got to be smart,” he said. “Myself and my team, the medical, we all have to be on the same page and all be in agreement.”