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The Miami Heat dropped to 2-1 against the Atlanta Hawks in the best-of-seven opening round of the Eastern Conference playoff series on Friday, April 22. The Heat appeared to be in good hands, up 14 points in the fourth quarter, but ultimately lost Game 3 in the final few seconds, going down 111 to 110.
Miami appeared to unravel shortly after All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry suddenly left the game in the third quarter with what was initially called a lower leg injury. Lowry was immediately ruled out for the rest of the game at the State Farm Arena.
After the game, Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra clarified that Lowry was dealing with a hamstring injury and would undergo more tests on Saturday to figure out the severity, AP’s Tim Reynolds tweeted.
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Losing Lowry would obviously be a huge blow to the Heat, as he’s the glue that keeps both the offense and defense running smoothly. Before leaving the game, he scored six points, shooting 4-of-7, along with five assists and four rebounds in 23 minutes of play.
However, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin provided a major update on Lowry’s status that will be a huge relief for Heat nation. According to the six-time All-Star, there’s nothing — not even a hamstring injury — that will keep him from returning to the playoffs.
McMenamin tweeted, “Caught up with a limping Kyle Lowry on his way out of the arena. He said his left hamstring issue has him, ‘pissed the f— off,’ and he plans round-the-clock treatment heading into Sunday’s Game 4. When I asked if he could miss time he said, ‘No, I’m Wolverine,’ with a grin.”
During the regular season, the 36-year-old averaged 13.4 points and 7.5 assists per game while shooting 44% from the field and 37.7% from beyond the arc, per Bleacher Report.
Jimmy Butler Is Hoping Lowry Can Return ASAP
Jimmy Butler, Lowry’s best friend and teammate, commented on Lowry’s injury after the game. The All-Star said he’s hoping their starting point guard is ready to go for Game 4, but if not, it’s next man up.
“I don’t what it is, to tell you the truth,” Butler said of Lowry’s injury, per Miami Herald’s Antony Chiang. “I know we love that guy as our point guard. If he’s with us, Yippee Ki-Yay. If he’s not, somebody has to step in and do his job.”
Butler himself went down early in the first quarter after taking a blow to the chest from Hawks star John Collins. After the Heat called time, Butler was able to return to the game and shoot the free throw for a 3-point play.
Game 4 against the Hawks is scheduled for Sunday, April 24 at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta at 7 p.m. ET.
Butler’s Missed Shot in the Final Seconds Drew Major Backlash on Twitter
The Heat’s 21-0 run in the third quarter made the fourth-quarter collapse even harder to watch. With just 53.9 seconds left, P.J. Tucker drilled a three to bring the Heat over the Hawks 110-109.
After both teams took empty possessions, Hawks star Trae Young hit a floater with just 4.4 seconds left in the game. “When the big moment came,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said of Young, as reported by Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman. “he had the last possession, he made it happen.”
Butler took the Heat’s final possession of the game, went for three, but missed. The sloppiness of the execution caused an onslaught of criticism on Twitter.
Overall, Butler scored 20 points with 10 rebounds and eight assists against the Hawks in Game 3. “We didn’t get the greatest execution or a clean look at the end,” Spoelstra acknowledged after the game.