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Heat look to bounce back against Hawks as injury issues loom

Apr 17, 2022; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat guard Kyle Lowry (7) brings the ball up the court during the first half of game one of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks at FTX Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat may be without starting point guard Kyle Lowry when they visit the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night for Game 4 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff matchup.

Lowry injured his left hamstring in the third quarter of host Atlanta’s 111-110 win over Miami on Friday night.

Atlanta cut Miami’s lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

Lowry missed the entire fourth quarter, finishing with six points and five assists in 23 minutes. His status for Sunday has not yet been determined.

“I do not know the severity of it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Lowry’s injury. “Our trainers said the best thing would be for (Lowry) not to go back into the game.”

Heat forward Jimmy Butler — who nearly had a triple-double with 20 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists — has had great chemistry with Lowry, who is in his first year with the Heat.

In fact, the entire Heat squad has meshed with Lowry, who averaged a team-high 7.5 assists to go with 13.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals during the regular season. Lowry also shot 37.7 percent on 3-pointers, his best marksmanship in five years.

“I love that guy as our point guard,” Butler said of Lowry. “If he’s with us, yippee-ki-yay.

“If he’s not, someone will step in and do his job.”

Spoelstra would have some options in that regard, including Tyler Herro and Gabe Vincent.

Herro ranked second on the team in scoring (20.7) and third in assists (4.0). He had 24 points on Friday, and Spoelstra may prefer to keep him as the leader of Miami’s explosive second unit.

Vincent averaged 8.7 points and 3.1 assists, both career highs.

The Hawks, meanwhile, have no questions about their point guard.

It’s Trae Young, just the second player in NBA history to lead the league in total points and assists.

Young, who averaged 28.4 points and a career-high 9.7 points, made the game-winning play on Friday. After Butler missed a jumper off the front rim with 12.6 seconds left, Atlanta’s Bogdan Bogdanovic grabbed the rebound and quickly flipped the ball to Young in transition.

Young drove the lane and floated a shot over Butler’s attempted block. The ball hit front rim, backboard and rim again before dancing into the net, giving the Hawks a 111-110 lead with 4.4 seconds left.

“He’s the head of the snake,” Hawks shooting guard Delon Wright said of Young, who finished with 24 points and eight assists.

Young, despite some struggles earlier in this series, has his confidence intact.

“I was able to get to my floater,” Young said. “I didn’t have any doubts.”

Miami had one more chance for a victory, but Butler missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. With no Lowry to set up the play, Butler took three dribbles to his right and fired an off-balance shot over the stellar defense of De’Andre Hunter. and the ball clanked off the front rim once again.

“I’ll make the next one,” Butler said.

Meanwhile, Young came alive in Friday’s third period with 10 points on 3-for-5 shooting, including a 3-pointer. He also went 3-for-3 from the foul line.

In the first three quarters, he shot just 3 of 9 and had 14 points. That followed an eight-point effort in Game 1 and a career-worst 10 turnovers in Game 2.

On Friday, though, all was forgiven by the rowdy Hawks fans, who have seen their team go 21-3 at home since Jan. 17.

The Hawks will try to stretch their home winning streak to seven games on Sunday.

–Field Level Media