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Heat's Kyle Lowry, P.J. Tucker Expected to Return from Injuries for Celtics Game 3

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 21, 2022

David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday that both Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker are planning to play in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics.

Spoelstra noted that both players will go through their pre-game routines with the intent of playing Saturday.

Lowry has not played since Game 4 of Miami's second-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers because of a hamstring ailment, while Tucker suffered a knee injury in Miami's 127-102 Game 2 loss to Boston on Thursday.

The Eastern Conference Finals are tied at one game apiece, with the Heat taking Game 1 and the Celtics answering in Game 2, but the scale could tip in Miami's favor if Lowry can return and play at a high level in Game 3.

Lowry, 36, is in the midst of his first season with the Heat, and while he has been productive when healthy, durability has been an issue.

In addition to missing time during the playoffs Lowry was limited to 63 games during the regular season, averaging 13.4 points, 7.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 2.3 three-pointers made and 1.1 steals while shooting 44.0 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from beyond the arc.

Before signing with Miami in free agency, Lowry spent nine seasons with the Toronto Raptors, where he earned six All-Star nods.

Lowry was a heart-and-soul player in Toronto, and he helped lead the Raptors to their first and only NBA championship in 2019.

The 37-year-old Tucker also knows a thing or two about high-leverage playoff situations, as he was a key role player on the Milwaukee Bucks' championship-winning team last season.

Miami signed Tucker in free agency during the offseason in hopes that he could perform at a high level in the playoffs once again, and the move has paid dividends thus far.

In 13 playoff games from the Heat, all of which are starts, Tucker is averaging 8.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 three-pointers made, while shooting an efficient 53.1 percent from the floor and 48.6 percent from deep.

There were some questions regarding his readiness for Game 3 when he left Game 2 against Boston, but Spoelstra's comments are promising in relation to Tucker's health.

If Lowry and Tucker both play Saturday, the Heat will essentially have a full allotment of weapons with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Victor Oladipo all in line to play as well.

The Heat arguably have the deepest team in the NBA, and they will be a lot for the Celtics to handle in Game 3 at full strength, even with the game being in Boston.

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