Time is on the Miami Heat side. And at the moment, there are a few more significant merchandise on the NBA calendar.
With Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry missed Tuesday night’s 97-94 decisive win streak over the visiting Atlanta Hawks, both now have until Monday to get back up to speed. That’s when the Heat’s Eastern Conference semi-final series against the Philadelphia 76ers or Toronto Raptors opens at the FTX Arena, with tickets going on sale on Wednesday.
“The next couple of days,” said coach Eric Spoelstra, “we just watch what happens. I just want everyone to live in the practice room. Come back to our cave, bandage it, I hope you get well.
“And then we’ll see what happens in this series. But the guys definitely deserve a couple of days of just quality rest and treatment.”
The 76ers, who are leading 3-2, could shut out the Raptors in Game 6 Thursday night in Toronto. Otherwise, this series would have been reduced to Game 7 on Saturday in Philadelphia, where the winner takes all.
A source familiar with Butler’s knee inflammation and Lowry’s hamstring strain said it’s possible one or both could play if it took Game 6 against the Hawks on Thursday.
Instead, what was diagnosed as Grade 1 strain for Lowry will take advantage in stoppage time after he was injured during the third quarter of Friday night’s Game 3 away game by the Hawks.
In Butler’s case, the team didn’t even consider an MRI needed, which was another encouraging sign.
“Obviously, any time we can give these guys a break and it will be good for all of us to finish the job,” said backup forward Caleb Martin.
With Gabe Vincent starting in place of Lowry for the second straight game and Victor Oladipo starting in place of Butler, the Heat were able to ease the pain of their two team leaders.
“They just breathed life into our guys, especially when things got a little uneven,” Spoelstra said of Butler and Lowry’s support on the court. “The guys just got back on the bench and saw Jimmy and Kyle right there in the mix. It’s hard not only to gain confidence in this.”
Oladipo said the increase was tangible.
“Jimmy helped me a lot in the fourth quarter. I appreciate it,” he said. “We appreciate Kyle. And we can’t wait for them to recover and come back to help us win.”
Center Bam Adebayo said he is also taking the opportunity to relax.
“Guys need that rest,” he said, “They need that mental break, and we’ll get back to it in the next episode.”
With Butler and Lowry out of the way, it looked like the Heat could lose Martin as well when he started grabbing his wrist after being hit during the first half on Tuesday night.
“Actually,” he said, “I just hit my funny bone in a rather sensitive place. Like I just had a shooting pain, a burning sensation all over my arm. So it only lasted a couple of minutes.
“It kind of subsided when the second half started. I’m fine.”
Tuesday was Martin’s best performance of the series, with 10 points and four rebounds.
“I feel like I was passive the whole series,” he said. “I’m not at my best when I’m passive. I’ve seen it in the last two games, so I just wanted to make sure I’m doing my best and make sure I’m kind of following myself and not just floating around there.
“I just wanted the guys to be honest and for something to happen, to be a part of what’s going on and keep finding shots and opportunities to put the ball in the hole.”
Offside on field three with 5.2 seconds to play, the Hawks first had to burn their final timeout and then failed to deliver the ball to Trae Young or Danilo Gallinari’s intended targets, instead ending the game with a pass that was enrolled. like stealing Adebayo.
“They basically gave us strength,” said Hawks coach Nate McMillan. “They reinforced us and basically just pulled us out of our cuts, made us go inside.
“We had two options for this. The first choice was Trae Young. The second option was Gallo. They just blew this play. It was a good defense on their part.”
Gallinari said: “They scored a corner twice. I had no way out and no time to do anything else. They defended well.”