Updates on Heat’s Lowry, Tucker. And analysts call for change from Bam, Spoelstra

·5 min read
Daniel A. Varela/dvarela@miamiherald.com

Heat point guard Kyle Lowry, who has missed four games in a row, and forward P.J. Tucker, who left Thursday’s game with an injury, traveled with the Heat to Boston on Friday and were listed as questionable for Saturday’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics (8:30 p.m., ABC).

Lowry’s hamstring injury has sidelined him for eight games this postseason; he hasn’t played since Game 4 against Philadelphia nearly two weeks ago. Boston’s 127-102 Game 2 win was the Heat’s first loss without Lowry this postseason.

Meanwhile, there is hope that Tucker can play though a left knee contusion. He sustained the injury in the first half of Thursday’s game, tried to play through it but left for good in the third quarter. Erik Spoelstra has said that Tucker wants to play through the injury.

Max Strus and Gabe Vincent are listed as questionable with hamstring injuries - as they were before Game 2 - but both are expected to play.

ANALYSTS IMPLORE ADEBAYO

Multiple ESPN analysts on Friday implored Bam Adebayo to be less passive offensively, and for Spoelstra to help him achieve that. Adebayo has attempted just 10 shots from the field and has 16 combined points in the first two games of the series.

Former Heat center Amar’e Stoudemire, working as a guest analyst for ESPN, said: “The Celtics are just a better team. Without Kyle Lowry, it’s going to be difficult for the Heat. Bam Adebayo is a potential All Star. We need him to be more assertive, be more efficient in the paint. Six shots, six points [in Game 2].”

Stoudemire said he didn’t see enough urgency from Adebayo “and that’s a concern for me. You want to see your star players be more dominant. If he can find a way to establish his positioning and they can get the ball to him easily, he can be assertive in the offense.”

The problem for the Heat, ESPN’s Tim Legler said, is “the [Celtics] have a team that is more complete in terms of the number of guys that can hurt you with shot-making.

“The [Heat] need players to put their stamp on Game 3 to have a chance, namely Bam. Far too passive. They don’t think he’s touching the ball enough. I was told a long time ago that’s never an excuse for a great player. Bam Adebayo has to be better. He needs to be more assertive.”

Legler said “one of things that’s hurting him is there is a lot of switching that goes on with Boston that he’s not getting situations where there’s traps on the ball-handler and he slips the middle and makes plays out of it. That’s when he’s at his best. Boston is taking that away with all the switches.

“So Erik Spoelstra has to figure a way to target him with specific set designs early in the game to get him shots. He has played like a role player at that end, and he’s far better than that.”

ESPN’s Seth Greenberg said the Heat “were a little too giddy after Game 1. The [Celtics] were without two starters. You shouldn’t be that giddy. The Celtics are a better team. They have more playmakers, more shot makers, they’ve got greater length, they’ve got great physicality. Everything has got to go right [for Miami to win].”

THIS AND THAT

▪ According to NBA.com, Heat players guarded by Marcus Smart shot 3 for 11 in Game 2, while players guarded by Al Horford shot 2 for 9.

▪ In Game 2, the Celtics had great success when Miami played a zone defense, which is often an effective strategy for the Heat.

“Miami does a good job with it,” Horford said. “Coach [Ime] Udoka kept it very simple for us and he wanted us to go about it a certain way and play with pace. That’s what we did. Our guys kept making the right reads.”

▪ Quick stuff: Tyler Herro is 2 for his last 17 on three-pointers… Butler moved past Mario Chalmers into fifth place on the Heat’s all-time postseason scoring list. Butler’s 882 postseason points for Miami trail only Dwyane Wade (3864), LeBron James (2338), Chris Bosh (1163) and Alonzo Mourning (989).

▪ Thursday’s game was the Heat’s 500th consecutive sellout, the fifth-longest streak in NBA history and the second-longest ongoing streak. The Heat’s streak started in April 2010, months before James joined the Heat. Dallas’ ongoing 867-game sellout streak, which started in 2001, is the longest in NBA history.

▪ Caleb Martin has had a very defined role over the past couple of weeks: Enter the game for 5 to 20 minutes and try to stop the opponent’s best (or one of the best) offensive threats.

He has embraced that role by taking his laptop everywhere.

“When I go eat breakfast, I’m going to bring my laptop and watch everybody I’m going to guard while I’m eating - Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Grant Williams, Payton Prichard, whoever it is,” he said. “I’m going to have breakfast with my brother [Hornets forward Cody Martin], will bring my laptop and sit there while I’m having a conversation and do both.

“Our staff and our video guys do a great job putting all the film together and I mix that with my own type of film I do at home. I go to YouTube, just anything I can do to [continue] learning the tendencies.”

Players defended by Martin are shooting 43.9 percent, compared with 45.3 percent overall this postseason.

But after hitting 41.3 of his three-point attempts during the season, he’s 5 for 22 (22.7 percent) in the postseason.

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