For the second consecutive time, the Miami Heat will enter a game severely shorthanded. Friday night, Miami only had seven available players to face the Washington Wizards on the road and lost 107-106 in overtime. Tonight, the Heat will visit the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are 10-point favorites.
Heat without at least five players for Sunday's game against the Cavs, as Jimmy Butler returns to Miami. Here's the latest Heat injury report https://t.co/uEbwfwZrtr— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) November 20, 2022
Kyle Lowry deserves credit for making the Wizards game competitive with a triple-double. The Wizards should’ve crushed Miami. Last November, Lowry scored 22 points in the fourth quarter in a road game against the Los Angeles Clippers without Jimmy Butler. Miami came up just short then, too.
But that brings up a question — if Lowry has this throwback performance in him, why haven’t we seen it more often?
Lowry’s tenure in Miami has had its ups and downs. Last year, he played well when Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler were injured, leading a group of largely undrafted players to impressive wins. But a personal issue caused him to miss significant time, derailing his season.
When some wondered why he was barely taking any shots, he said he was gearing up for the “real season.” But he suffered a hamstring injury in the first round of the playoffs and couldn’t help Butler the way Miami had hoped he would when they executed the sign-and-trade for him. Pat Riley called him out for not being in world-class shape.
And here we are again. When Miami desperately needed him, Lowry played 51 minutes and delivered a triple-double. The issue for the Heat isn’t losing Friday night to Washington; it’s that Lowry hadn’t played well enough to lift Miami’s record before that game.
Riley and Erik Spoelstra knew they weren’t getting the Lowry who made six consecutive All-Star appearances from 2015 to 2020. But it’s fair to say they expected more than he’s given. As I said, declining to trade for Chris Paul in 2019 was a missed opportunity in hindsight. If Lowry offers throwback performances more often, we’ll see the Lowry sign-and-trade as the right move. But it doesn’t look that way now.