Two games back from a seven-game injury layoff, the Miami Heat opted to hold forward Jimmy Butler out of Tuesday night’s game against the Detroit Pistons for what the team listed as a “Return to Competition Rehab.”
In what appeared to be a similar move, the Heat listed veteran guard Victor Oladipo as questionable for Tuesday night’s game, the first time this season he’s been listed as anything other than “out” on an NBA injury report . Oladipo, dealing with knee discomfort, last appeared in the preseason finale.
Butler powered the Heat to a 120-116 overtime victory over the Boston Celtics on Friday night at TD Garden, finishing with 25 points and 15 rebounds, scoring the game-winning baskets in overtime.
The 33-year-old veteran then finished with 18 points, eight assists and six rebounds in Monday night’s 101-93 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum.
Before the win in Boston, Butler had not played since a Nov. 16 road loss to the Toronto Raptors. Meanwhile, he was listed as out with “right knee soreness.”
Oladipo hinted he was close to a return during the just-completed four-game road trip, practicing with the team during the eight days away from South Florida, including extended pregame workouts.
In addition to Butler, center Omer Yurtseven, who is recovering from ankle surgery, and forward Jamal Cain, who is assigned to the G League, were also listed before Tuesday night’s game.
In addition to Oladipo, listed as questionable for Tuesday night were center Dewayne Dedmon (foot) and guard Gabe Vincent (knee).
As probable for Tuesday night were guard Tyler Herro (ankle), forward Haywood Highsmith (ankle), guard Duncan Robinson (ankle) and guard Max Strus (shoulder).
As for Lowry. . .
After spending most of the season second only to Brooklyn Nets forward Keven Durant in minutes, 36-year-old Heat guard Kyle Lowry moved into ninth in the NBA in minutes on Tuesday night , though tied for second among guards after 26 years with the Atlanta Hawks. One-year-old Dejounte Murray.
“I feel great. No, I feel great. I feel great,” Lowry said when asked after a recent shootaround about his minutes volume at his age. “I feel great. I feel 22 years old.”
With Vincent missing five recent games with a knee problem and Butler and Herro sidelined, there was little indication coach Erik Spoelstra would turn around otherwise.
But with Butler and Herro back, and Vincent returning last week, there are once again alternatives to Lowry, the only Heat player yet to miss a game this season.
“I feel better every day,” Vincent said. “I definitely wanted to make sure I was healthy enough to play and it worked out well, I think
“I’m still feeling better every day, so we’re still trying to continue this training.”
Lowry said this charge was not necessarily expected.
“No, I didn’t anticipate that,” he said. “But I feel great.”
As a matter of perspective, Lowry ranked 71st in the NBA last season in minutes played, 43rd in minutes per game.
Spoelstra was more than aware.
“We don’t even practice,” Spoelstra said. “It keeps itself in great shape, so it’s ready to go.”
As for whether there might eventually be load management or something similar for Lowry, Spoelstra said: “I don’t know. We’ll get to that one when we get to it.”
Even with the Heat struggling with their shooting late in Monday night’s loss, Butler said what matters is that the Heat kept shooting.
“You have to keep taking the shots that we normally take, knowing that the next one is going to come in,” he said. “Keep sharing the ball and don’t forget it’s a team effort. We have to keep whipping the ball and shooting the ball and crashing.
“If you miss, you know you’ll get another opportunity.”
The Heat shot 6 of 17 in the fourth quarter on Monday, including 1 of 7 on 3-pointers.