Kyle Lowry's playoff rebirth has the Heat surging
After a forgettable year Lowry has stepped it up and its paying dividends for the Heat
In case you missed it, the Miami Heat has had a pretty good postseason. After sneaking into the playoffs through the Play-In Tournament, the eighth-seeded Heat has upset the best team in basketball by eliminating the Milwaukee Bucks in five games, laid waste to a gritty New York Knicks squad, and currently have a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. After being written off early in the season due to inconsistent play, Kyle Lowry has emerged as an enormous part of Miami’s playoff success.
Though Heat Twitter would often have you forget it, Lowry has played most of his Heat tenure hurt - something that was recently echoed by Heat broadcaster Eric Reid on a recent Five on the Floor Podcast. Though he’s had his ups and downs, it’s safe to say that with his postseason play, Lowry has saved his Heat legacy.
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Thrust into a reserve role after returning from his knee injury, Lowry has excelled on both ends of the floor. And while not all of his contributions show up in the box score, Lowry’s experience has made him adept at making the right play when Miami needs him to. So why not move back Lowry into the starting lineup? Well as highlighted in William Guillory’s article for the Athletic, Spo saw an advantage in bringing Kyle off the bench:
“One of the things we’ve found is you’re bringing a Hall-of-Fame mind off the bench,” Spoelstra said. “Our second unit was struggling for much of the year. Shift him (to the bench) and a lot of the things we were working on endlessly just kind of get taken care of. He is an ultimate winner. What drives him more than anything is winning.”
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how Kyle has evolved his game to amplify winning in these playoffs.
Put simply, Lowry is playing differently in the playoffs than he did throughout the regular season on the offensive end and it’s paying dividends. (Stats by Cleaning the Glass). Part of that comes with him finally having the ball more, allowing him to quarterback the offense - something he was exceptional at last season.
Regular season shot frequency:
Postseason shot frequency:
During the regular season, an injured Lowry settled for mostly three-point looks. With 48% of his looks being non-corner threes, Lowry did little work in the midrange making him a one trick-pony from three-point land. The problem? Lowry only shot 34% from three this season making him inefficient. Lowry has diversified his game in the playoffs, shooting 21% of his looks from outside of 14 feet, adding midrange looks to his arsenal, and taking good three-point looks while slowly abandoning corner looks.
Postseason shot accuracy:
In adjusting his offense, Lowry has increased his Effective Field Goal percentage to the 69th percentile from the 59th during the regular season. He’s hitting 50% of those Long Mid shots, and 48% of his midrange attempts overall. He’s also hitting 40% of his non-corner threes and when those shots are going you get moments like this:
Lowry’s new style, might not be as flashy as his Toronto Raptors days, but it’s coming up big in key moments and that’s what the Heat need right now. It’s harder to show this statistically but Lowry has come up huge in the clutch for Miami during the postseason. An example of this? Look no further than Lowry’s steals down the stretch to seal the series vs the Knicks:
Lowry is always delivering in these moments, even his four-block explosion vs the Knicks had two blocks happen in clutch time. It’s who he is, and has been his whole career, and why I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t playing in the fourth quarter in the late stages of the season.
Lastly, as the leader of the second unit, Lowry is still a great passer. He’s averaging 5.1 assists per game and similar to his shot-blocking can explode at any time like he did in Game 6 vs the Knicks for 9 assists. It could be said, however, that his assists are more important now as a reserve as he activates key role players like Max Strus, Duncan Robinson, and Caleb Martin. The Heat is a different team when they’re hitting shots, so getting these guys into a hot streak is game-changing.
Out of nowhere, Lowry has become a postseason shot-blocking menace. After averaging 0.4 blocks in the regular season, Lowry has catapulted himself into the 100th percentile averaging nearly 1 a game and occasionally exploding for four (see Game 1 vs the Knicks). He’s leading the Heat in blocks per game standing at just 6’0 tall — it’s special to see.
Lowry is also averaging 1.1 steals per game, and as I mentioned before they’re coming in clutch moments, and disrupting the opponent’s key runs. As the Eastern Conference Finals stretch on, you can only imagine another one of these is around the corner:
The Heart of a Champion
Raptors’ Twitter would yell this from the top of the CN Tower when he was on the team, but they’re right: “Never underestimate the heart of a champion!” Lowry has been in big moments for much of the second half of his career, and he’s come through again and again.
Miami isn’t asking him to be the number two player like he was en route to the 2019 NBA Championship, they’re just asking him to do what he does best. Lowry has embraced his new role as a reserve, leading the second unit and buying into Erik Spoelstra’s overall plan and the Heat is winning because of it. He might not be shining as bright as Jimmy Butler, but he’s keeping this team on fire.
Thank u our very own Kyle Lowry.This dude has turned into a 6ft.Blocktpus.His play in this years playoffs is off the charts as we have seen.love this dude.