At this time last year — to the day, because Game 3 of the Miami Heat’s second-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers was May 6, 2022 — Kyle Lowry struggled in his return after a hamstring injury sustained in the first round. He shot 0-for-4 from the field in a blowout Sixers win and sat out Games 5 and 6 of that series.
A year later, Lowry is playing much better.
The 2019 NBA champion scored 14 points off the bench in yesterday’s Game 3 win over the New York Knicks. He made a nice up-and-under move on Immanuel Quickley for a fourth-quarter score and held his own when he switched onto Julius Randle on defense. And this came after Lowry closed the door on the Knicks in his 18-point performance in Game 1 of this series, scoring after Jimmy Butler sprained his ankle.
Erik Spoelstra opened the second quarter of yesterday’s game with a lineup of Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Caleb Martin, Haywood Highsmith and Cody Zeller. It may have seemed absurd that Spoelstra would sit both Butler and Bam Adebayo during a second-round playoff game, but the Heat actually increased their lead. Miami entered the quarter up eight and held a 19-point lead when Adebayo and Butler both checked back in.
A lot of that run came from Lowry. (And yes, the Knicks’ abysmal shooting.) He assisted on a Robinson 3 to open the period. On Miami’s next possession, a Lowry/Cody Zeller pick-and-roll opened space for a Highsmith corner 3. Another Lowry/Zeller pick-and-roll created a Zeller layup, and then Lowry knocked down a pull-up 3.
Now, it’s fair to point out that Lowry didn’t play well in Game 2 of this series. He shot just 3-of-9 from the field and 0-for-4 from downtown. Gabe Vincent played much better than he did that night. (Those roles were reversed in Game 3.) Even accounting for Scott Foster’s controversial calls, the Heat could be up 3-0 in this series if Lowry had played better then. But he is 37 years old.
The Heat are two wins away from a third trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in four seasons. And after injuries to Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo, Lowry has helped bring Miami there.
Yes, he actually makes an impact on both sides of the floor. I was convinced that he is done.
Kyle's shocked me after his abysmal regular season, he's been a key player in both the Heat's series so far. Duncan Robinson has cool off after his blazing hot Bucks series, but Miami is clearly getting significant contributions from players I had at least written off as lost causes.