The Heat’s starting backcourt has fallen into a shooting slump at the worst possible time, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Gabe Vincent and Max Strus played vital roles in Miami’s climb from the play-in tournament to the NBA Finals, but they were held to a combined 12 points in the Game 3 and 4 losses while shooting 4-of-27 from the field.
Strus was despondent in the locker room after Friday’s contest, according to Jackson. He missed all four of his shots on a scoreless night and was removed from the game for good with 4:25 left in the third quarter.
“I’m pretty disappointed,” he said. “But sitting here and sulking about it is not going to do anything. Got to toughen up and bounce back. Look forward to the next opportunity and try to stay positive.”
Vincent scored a combined 42 points in the two games at Denver, but has managed just nine since the series shifted back to Miami. He shot 3-of-16 over the last two games and got into early foul trouble both times.
“Gabe’s been unbelievable this whole playoff run,” Kyle Lowry said. “Gabe is a tremendous basketball player. Our league is a make-or-miss league, and you have a guy in Jimmy Butler who is going to continue to pump confidence into him. I’m going to pump confidence into him. He’s going to come out and have a great game in Game 5.”
There’s more on the Heat:
- Miami could have up to four first-round picks to trade this summer, which would be the most in several years, Jackson adds. He notes that the Heat could give themselves extra flexibility by working out an agreement with the Thunder to waive the lottery protections on the selection that Miami owes to OKC in 2025 or 2026.
- The Heat have shown that they can succeed without Tyler Herro, who has been injured for nearly the entirety of their playoff run, and Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel states that it should be much easier to trade Herro than it was last offseason. The poison pill restriction in Herro’s contract will expire at the end of the month, meaning his salary will be counted as $27MM for trade purposes, rather than the $5.7MM he’s currently earning on his rookie contract. Winderman points out that Herro’s $130MM extension kicks in next season, and any team that trades for him will have him under contract for the next four years.
- Team president Pat Riley should be aggressive about trying to acquire Damian Lillard from the Trail Blazers this summer, argues Manny Navarro of The Athletic. Earlier this week, Lillard listed the Heat as one of his preferred destinations if he does get traded.