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Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent out for Game 5 against Boston Celtics, how the team can adjust

Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent has been ruled out for Game 5 against the Boston Celtics. How can the Heat adjust in Vincent's absence?

NBA: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat

The Miami Heat have been on a magical run but injuries to their guards are starting to pile up now. Heat guard Gabe Vincent has been ruled out for Game 5 against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals after a left ankle sprain in Game 4.

Vincent is averaging 17.5 points, 2.3 assists, and 2.0 rebounds while shooting 57.9% from the field and 50% on 5.5 attempts from the three-point line in the series. This is a massive loss for Miami as Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo are out with no hopes of returning against Boston.

The 26-year-old guard has been a vital piece to the Heat’s starting lineup in the playoffs but Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra always finds a way to adjust when adversity hits the team. What directions could Spoelstra go as the Heat look to secure a spot in the NBA Finals?

Related: Miami Heat provide significant update on Tyler Herro’s injury status

How the Miami Heat can adjust in Gabe Vincent’s absence for Game 5 against Boston Celtics

NBA: Miami Heat at Boston Celtics
Nov 30, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) drives the ball against Miami Heat forward Haywood Highsmith (24) and guard Gabe Vincent (2) in the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

There are a few directions that Spoelstra can go as the Heat look to avoid a Game 6 back in Miami. One of the major keys to success needs to be Bam Adebayo’s contribution on both ends of the floor in Game 5.

Adebayo is going to flash defensive excellence on a nightly basis and that will be even more important now. The Heat are going to miss Vincent’s defense as the guard position becomes weaker and weaker from a depth standpoint.

However, Miami’s All-Star center will need to pick up the slack on the offensive side. The Heat need to put the ball in Adebayo’s hands more often and make him a priority. He only attempted seven shots in Game 4 and that will not be enough in Game 5.

Perhaps, the Heat could make Adebayo the primary ball handler and make sure the ball is in his hands. When Miami is at its best, Adebayo is performing at a high level on offense with major confidence.

There is another question on the starting lineup. Who will replace Vincent at point guard? Well, this is an opportunity for Spoelstra to really get creative with the rotation. The easiest option from the outside is to insert Lowry, who has been in a shooting slump for the last three games.

If not, another option could be moving Caleb Martin into the starting lineup instead. Martin is averaging 18.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in the Eastern Conference finals and has been one of the Heat’s best players.

It would allow Lowry to stay with the bench unit and split up the ball-handling minutes. One of the only downsides would be taking away bench production; however, this should be a game that Spoelstra relies heavily on the starting five.

Adebayo has played only 26 and 35 minutes while Jimmy Butler has played 31 and 39 minutes in the last two games. It feels like a game where both players may need to go above 40 minutes to survive the punches on the road in Boston.

Spoelstra, in a Thursday morning talk with reporters, said to expect a lot of minutes from Lowry but did not indicate whether that means he will be starting in Game 5. The Heat’s head coach didn’t say anything about Butler or Adebayo but it seems likely they will get a jump with a possibly smaller rotation.

Finally, Miami could go forward with more Haywood Highsmith minutes. Highsmith hasn’t gotten many minutes since the Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Knicks but could thrive in a defensive role against Jayson Tatum.

According to the NBA Advanced Stats Matchup Data, Highsmith did not defend any other player more than he did with Tatum during the regular season and held him to six points, three assists, and four turnovers on 2-of-14 shooting (14.3%) from the field and 0-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc.

This could be the time to finally unleash Highsmith against the Celtics. The Heat want to end it on Boston’s home court after losing Game 7 of last year’s Eastern Conference finals in Miami. The team has enough and it will be interesting to see the direction that Spoelstra takes in Game 5.

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