The Miami Heat will be without one of its top scorers for a pivotal Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals at FTX Arena.
Heat guard Tyler Herro, who was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year this season, will miss his second straight game on Wednesday because of a strained left groin.
ESPN reported on Tuesday that Herro’s groin injury would keep him out for two to four weeks in the regular season, but he’s pushing to play through the pain. But the Heat has opted to hold Herro out of Game 5, and his status for the rest of the series remains unclear with Game 6 set for Friday in Boston.
“I mean, obviously you have hope [that he can play], but I kind of had an idea when we were leaving that he does need some rest and recovery,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Herro’s injury. “These can be tricky. I know how badly he wants to be out there, and that’s why we’ll listen to him, but these decisions have to be made by the training staff and our doctors.
“We just have to be responsible to our guys as human beings. This is admirable what both sides are doing right now, but you don’t want to be irresponsible, as well.”
Herro, 22, has averaged an inefficient 12.3 points on 39 percent shooting from the field on 1-of-14 (7.1 percent) shooting on threes in three East finals games before missing Games 4 and 5. But he was one of the Heat’s top offensive weapons in the regular season, averaging 20.7 points on a team-high 17 shots per game.
The Heat will miss Herro’s shot creation and three-level scoring ability against the Celtics’ elite defense. Guard Victor Oladipo will be relied on play a bigger offensive role off the Heat’s bench to help fill some of the void Herro leaves behind.
Herro is the only Heat player who will miss Wednesday’s game.
The rest of the players on the Heat’s injury report — Kyle Lowry (left hamstring strain), Max Strus (right hamstring strain), P.J. Tucker (left knee irritation) and Gabe Vincent (left hamstring strain) — will be available to play in Game 5 despite being listed as questionable.
Wednesday marks just the eighth game that Lowry, 36, has played in this postseason, as his hamstring injury has forced him to miss eight playoff games. Since returning in Game 3 of the conference finals, Lowry has averaged seven points on 5-of-17 (29.4 percent) shooting from the field and 3-of-10 (30 percent) shooting on threes, three rebounds and four assists in the last two games.
The good news for the Heat is star Jimmy Butler was not on the Game 5 injury report after he missed the second half of Game 3 on Saturday because of right knee inflammation. But Butler did struggle in Game 4 with six points on 3-of-14 shooting from the field.
The Celtics will have their full rotation available for Game 5. Starters Marcus Smart (right ankle sprain) and Robert Williams (left knee soreness) will play despite being listed as questionable for the injury report.
Sam Hauser remains out for the Celtics because of right shoulder instability.