Heat Make Final Call on Pair of Starters for Game 3

Jimmy Butler

Getty Images PJ Tucker and Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat.

The Miami Heat are expecting Kyle Lowry and PJ Tucker to be active for Game 3 as the Eastern Conference Finals shifts to Boston.

Lowry has missed eight of the Heat’s first 13 playoff games, returning briefly during the series against the Sixers but being forced to exit. Tucker exited Game 2 with a knee injury

“Obviously you have a Hall of Fame point guard,” Spoelstra said of Lowry, via the Sun-Sentinel. “It won’t be 40 minutes. But whatever his minutes are, he has the experience and resume. You can’t necessarily put a weight to it; you just know what it means to your team, especially in a building like this, on the road.”

That’s a good sign for the Heat, who were not competitive for most of Game 2, falling behind big at half and losing by 25 points.

“You do got to move on, but I don’t like to move on from this because it has to hurt. They tried to embarrass us,” Heat star Jimmy Butler said. “They did embarrass us. We gotta realize that, use it as fuel.”

Kyle Lowry Has Missed Chunk of Postseason

Lowry hasn’t got into specifics about his injury but assured that he wasn’t feeling great during the series against Philly.

“I’d put it this way, you don’t want to play with it,” Lowry said.

The 35-year-old Lowry started 63 games for the Heat this season. He averaged 13.4 points and 7.5 assists, also producing on the defensive side of the ball. But with 15-plus seasons under his belt, Lowry’s leadership and experience are tough things to be replaced.

Tucker is a key veteran piece for the Heat defense and has been known to hit a timely 3-pointer when called upon in a big spot.

“I think he’ll be all right,” Butler said. ” If he’s not ready to go, though, everybody else has to be ready to go. Those are some even bigger shoes to have to fill because he does it on the defensive end. We’re capable of it, though.”

Heat Pleased With Gabe Vincent in Relief Duty

With Lowry out, Gabe Vincent has been called upon to play a larger role for the Heat. The 25-year-old former undrafted free agent has stepped up to the plate and is averaging 15.5 points on 50% shooting against Boston. He’s also hitting his treys at a 46.5% clip.

Vincent credited Lowry for helping him improve his game, preparing him for the big spot against the Sixers and Celtics.

“I feel like my IQ has grown a lot being around him,” Vincent said, per the Miami Herald. “Learning how to read defenses differently. I think I’ve become a much better passer. A lot of that has to do with being able to see things develop or see where I can get guys the ball where the defense can’t get it. I think you see that most for me particularly with pitching the ball ahead.”

The Heat are 6.5-point underdogs on the road against the Celtics on Saturday. Boston is 32-15 at home this season, while the Heat are 26-20 on the road.

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