Kyle Lowry and PJ Tucker were on court for the Miami Heat on Saturday night in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on Saturday night.
For the Heat, it was a significant move, given that Lowry had missed eight of the last 10 games due to a strained left hamstring, and given that Tucker had severed his left knee in Game 2 to the extent that given that the need for MRI were early ideas.
“They’re both going to do their whole routine with the intention of playing,” Spoelstra said. “So, yes, they were both involved in the shootout.”
Lowry has missed the past two weeks, initially losing during the first round to the Atlanta Hawks in Heat Game 3 on April 22, a series the Heat won 4-1.
He then returned, only to be sidelined in the former semifinal against the Philadelphia 76ers, which the Heat won 4–2.
Spoelstra insisted that the blow against the 76ers was not a blow to Lowry’s rehab case.
“He wanted to play Game 5 the last series,” Spoelstra said. “I think we’ve handled it appropriately. I think even before the ramp up, in the Philly series, I think we’ve checked all the boxes. Things will happen.
“He didn’t hurt again. I think it was important, so he was still able to heal. If he had put it on again, I think he would have been out for a lot longer. It’s just him.” Still felt, so we made a mistake in being careful and taking more time.”
Tucker pulled off a Game 2 loss at FTX Arena on Thursday night after suffering a knee injury for the first time in the first half and extended it in the third quarter.
But instead of MRI, it was time for treatment and then Saturday morning court.
When asked what it would take to keep Tucker out, Spoelstra laughed.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I guess we all, you’re like 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 , then he barks at me and yells at me if I’m talking to trainers. I’m allowed to talk to trainers, it’s part of my job.
“But he is a throwback by every definition of that.”
After being sidelined in their Game 1 loss to guard Marcus Smart and big man Al Horford on the Heat’s court on Tuesday night, Lowry returns to inject the same upgrade the Celtics received in Game 2.
“Obviously you have a Hall of Fame point guard,” Spoelstra said. “It won’t be 40 minutes. But whatever his minutes, he has the experience and the résumé. You can’t necessarily put a load on him; you just know what it means for your team, especially on the road like this. In a building of sorts.”