Kyle Lowry and PJ Tucker were on the court Saturday morning for the Miami Heat ahead of Saturday night’s Game 3 at TD Garden against the Boston Celtics in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
For the Heat, it was a significant step, considering Lowry had missed eight of the previous 10 games due to a strained left hamstring, and considering that Tucker bruised his left knee in Thursday night’s Game 2 to the degree that there were initial thoughts of requiring an MRI.
“They are both going to do their whole routine with the intention of playing,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “So, yes, they both were involved in shootaround.”
Lowry has missed the past two weeks, initially injured April 22 in the Heat’s Game 3 loss during the first round to the Atlanta Hawks, a series the Heat won 4-1.
He then returned, only to be sidelined in the East semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers, which the Heat won 4-2. Prior to Saturday, his last action had been May 8 in Philadelphia.
Spoelstra stressed that the setback against the 76ers was not a setback in terms of Lowry’s rehab.
“He wanted to play Game 5 last series,” Spoelstra said of when Lowry’s stretch of four consecutive absences began. “I think we’ve handled this appropriately. I think even the ramp up before that, in the Philly series, I think we checked all the boxes. Things will happen.
“He didn’t reinjure. I think that was important, so he still was able to heal. If he did reinjure it, I think he would have been out a lot longer. It’s just he still felt it, so we erred on the side of caution and taking more time.”
Tucker left Thursday night’s loss at FTX Arena after first injuring the knee in the first half and the aggravating it in the third quarter.
But instead of an MRI there was treatment and then court time Saturday morning.
Spoelstra laughed when asked what it would take to keep Tucker, 37, out.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I think all of us, you’re kind of on eggshells with him. You can’t ask him how he’s doing. I can’t ask a trainer, because if he sees me talking to a trainer, he barks at me and yells at me if I’m talking to the trainers. I’m allowed to talk to the trainers, that is part of my job.
“But he is a throwback by every definition of that.”
The Lowry return injects a similar upgrade to what the Celtics received in Game 2, after guard Marcus Smart and big man Al Horford were sidelined from their Game 1 loss on the Heat’s court on Tuesday night.
“Obviously you have a Hall of Fame point guard,” Spoelstra said of Lowry, 36. “It won’t be 40 minutes. But whatever his minutes are, he has the experience and resume. You can’t necessarily put a weight to it; you just know what it means to your team, especially in a building like this, on the road.”
For the Celtics, guard Derrick White was back after missing Game 2 for the birth of his son. But the Celtics returned center Robert Williams to their injury report, listing him as questionable due to knee soreness. Williams was held out of the final four games of the Celtics 4-3 East semifinal victory over the Milwaukee Bucks with the knee issue, the outgrowth of previous meniscus surgery.