Even with their second-round playoff opponent determined, the build up to the Eastern conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers apparently will be a gradual process for the Miami Heat ahead of Monday’s 7:30 p.m. series opener at FTX Arena.

Among those held out of Friday’s practice were Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, P.J. Tucker and Caleb Martin.

Herro was away from the team due to a non-Covid illness that the team listed as a respiratory issue.

Lowry and Butler continued to receive treatment for the ailments that had them out for the close of the 4-1 first-round victory over the Atlanta Hawks. Lowry missed the final two games of that series with a hamstring strain, with Butler missing Tuesday night’s series finale with knee soreness.

Tucker (calf strain) and Martin (ankle sprain) had been listed on the Heat injury report throughout the Hawks series, without missing time.

“Each day we’ll get a better idea,” coach Erik Spoelstra said, “but everybody’s made progress. Everybody was doing something, whether it was in the practice or on the side. And I took that as an encouraging sign.”

Spoelstra declined to forecast availability for Monday’s series opener.

“I don’t want to jump the gun on anything,” he said. “I like the progress that everybody’s made. We’ll see if we make more progress [Saturday] and it’ll just be a daily update.”

Gabe Vincent had filled in as the starting point guard in Lowry’s absence, with Victor Oladipo starting Tuesday night in place of Butler.

Spoelstra gave the team Wednesday and Thursday off before reconvening for what is expected to be three consecutive days of practice. The 76ers closed out the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night in Game 6 of that best-of-seven series to lock in the opponent for this round.

“It’s good, two days for everybody to kind of decompress, get out of that [Hawks] series, slowly transition,” Spoelstra said. “And everybody was watching the game [Thursday] night. Now we start to gear up and get our energy systems in order for this next series, which we can expect to be a great battle.”

The teams split the four-game season series 2-2, although James Harden has yet to face the Heat in a 76ers uniform since his Feb. 10 NBA trading deadline acquisition from the Brooklyn Nets.

“It’s totally different than the team we played this year,” Spoelstra said. “He definitely changes the dynamic. You’re talking about an MVP player, a guy who can manipulate the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

      

Heat remain cautious with Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry injuries ahead of 76ers series

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