Miami Heat coach Eric Spoelstra opted for a lineup change for Friday night’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden, despite being limited by point guard Kyle Lowry’s balky hamstrings and a shooting fall by guard Max Strauss.
“These are tough decisions. We’re going with that lineup,” he said, with his team going 3-2 on the night to the Boston Celtics in a best-of-seven series. “It’s been a really successful lineup. “
The Heat have started that lineup throughout the playoffs with Bam Adebayo, PJ Tucker, Jimmy Butler, Lowry and Strauss not hurting their way to the opening.
“It’s a fast-moving series,” Spoelstra said. “And it happens with two competing teams: Who can match whom? Who can get their strength more often? Who can beat the other team with their strength?
“It’s a fine line between doing those things and making adjustments. But that’s part of the deal.”
The reserve rotation, however, changed, with sixth man Tyler Herrow missing his third game in a row on Friday with a groin strain.
“These are not easy conversations or decisions,” Spoelstra said 90 minutes before Friday night’s tipoff. “He’s definitely made progress, but he’s not quite ready, you know, to step into this kind of intensity of a game.”
Spoelstra previously stated that Herro had done some light work in the morning shootaround, but cautioned nonetheless, “He is doing everything he can to convince the head coach and coaches that he is available, but we cannot make this determination.” will do.”
Asked what it would take to get Hero back on the court, Spoelstra said, “I’ll have to talk to the coaches. He’ll have to pass some protocol.”
Spoelstra declined to say whether Herro’s injury would have been measured in days rather than weeks if it had been a regular season.
“I think it’s irrelevant to go into all the details,” he said. “He’s not able to play tonight, you know. As badly as he wants to get out of there, you know, it’s the most responsible decision we’ve ever made.”
Heroes were listed as suspects earlier in the day, as were Lori (hamstrings), Strauss (hamstrings), Tucker (knees) and guard Gabe Vincent (hamstrings). There is also the case of Butler battling knee pain.
Spoelstra smiled when asked for updates about those players.
“Given that I’m not allowed to ask other people,” he said, “I think they’ll at least go through their routine.”
Spoelstra concluded his media session by saying, “I think we’re going to have some great performances tonight, no matter what lineup we have.”