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South Florida Sun Sentinel

Heat living in the moment, except when it comes to Kyle Lowry

By Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun-Sentinel,


When it comes to the Miami Heat, Erik Spoelstra’s talking points have been pointed, that this is go time, a moment to be seized, victory the only acceptable answer.

Unless the conversation is about Kyle Lowry.

Then it has been about walking before running, easing back, more significant days ahead.

“We’re going to build this,” Spoelstra said, with the Heat facing the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night at Miami-Dade Arena. “We want to set him up for success.”

When the 36-year-old veteran point guard played 36 minutes in his Saturday night return from a 15-game absence due to knee pain, Spoelstra said he got ahead of himself in that overtime road loss to the Orlando Magic.

Monday night, Lowry was down to 19 minutes in the home win over the Utah Jazz .

“I came in with a mindset and Kyle was on the same page with me, that we were going to get this under control,” said Spoelstra, who returned Lowry in a reserve role, after the 36-year-old veteran had made his previous 677 appearances as a starter.

“As long as the head coach doesn’t get out of control and get too competitive and keep him out there forever, he’s going to be just fine,” Spoelstra said.

So for 16 on the roster, it is about living in the moment.

For Lowry, it is about setting up for more meaningful moments, with the play-in round opening April 11 and the playoffs on April 15.

“He feels great physically,” Spoelstra said. “We don’t have a lot of games left, but we do have to be smart about this. And I think that the plan is very good, from the training room to the medical staff to Kyle to myself. We’ll just see.

“It might look different two weeks from now.”

When the Heat were dealing with injuries to others at the start of the season, Lowry was at the top of the league in minutes played. Then came the knee pain. Then the month out of action.

“We want to be vigilant about this,” Spoelstra said. “We want to be smart about it. We want to set him up for success moving forward.”

Even Lowry back, Gabe Vincent has been starting at point guard.

But in the postseason, when greater precision is required, is when Spoelstra believes Lowry’s time will come.

“You could see what our team needs right now,” Spoelstra said. “It’s play in between. It’s not the set. It’s not the script. It’s the things that he can create that are unscripted. His ability to get the team organized, get the ball where it needs to go and then be aggressive in those moments in between.

“We really need that extra playmaking, whether he’s shooting threes or the random dribble penetrations. All of those things really help our offense.”

Because of that potential to play as a playoff difference maker, teammates also are stressing patience.

“He’s a winner,” forward Jimmy Butler said. “He plays at a high level and he’ll do whatever you ask him to do, whether it be start, coming off the bench, getting the ball where it needs to go,

“No matter if he’s coming off the bench or a starter. He’s always going to help us win.”

The truest tests are still to come, with three back-to-back sets remaining, this weekend in Chicago on Saturday night and Detroit on Sunday, the following week at Toronto and then New York, and the final week of the regular season in Philadelphia and Washington.

The last time Lowry played on consecutive nights was the Dec. 30 road loss to the Denver Nuggets and the Dec. 31 road victory over the Jazz.

“I’m not even thinking,” Spoelstra said, “what this could look like in two weeks, in three weeks.”

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