“I’m pissed. I’m pissed.”
And, with that, Kyle Lowry made clear where he stood Saturday with his mental state, after being forced to retreat to the locker room and miss the balance of Friday night’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
As for where the Miami Heat’s floor leader stands from a physical standpoint with his strained left hamstring, that is a bit murkier, questionable for Sunday night’s Game 4 at State Farm Arena against the Hawks in this best-of-seven opening-round Eastern Conference playoff series that his team leads 2-1.
“We’re going to talk to medical and we’re going to be all on the same page, and see how I feel day by day,” the veteran point guard said.
That makes Sunday hardly appear to be the day for his next action, considering he sat out Saturday’s practice and was walking with an uneven gait.
“We’ll make that determination,” coach Erik Spoelstra said in deferring the decision until Sunday. “I know how he is — he’s an absolute warrior, but we’ll see what the trainers say.”
Such an injury typically involves at least a week out of action.
“We’ll figure it out,” Spoelstra said. “You know the one thing about this team is we’ve had a lot of different variations of our rotation all year long. We’ve been able to respond and win with different guys out.”
Lowry exited Friday’s game with 1:59 left in the third quarter, after he stepped on the foot of Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter while defending, lost his shoe, and then went immediately into the Heat locker room during a timeout at that stage. He later limped to the team bus.
Saturday, however, he said tweaked the hamstring prior to that play.
“I was trying to get out of the game, actually,” he said. “I didn’t tell Spo until the last second. We couldn’t get the sub in. But it happened before that. I don’t know when exactly. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment.”
The Heat have been here before, amid such Lowry uncertainly, with a 12-7 record in Lowry’s absence this season. That, of course, was during the regular season, including games against lower-tier competition.
Gabe Vincent has served as the replacement starter when Lowry has been out, which likely would again be the case.
But there also is the opportunity of injecting Victor Oladipo into the rotation for the first time this postseason, with the veteran guard having scored 40 points in the April 10 regular-season finale, when Lowry sat out the road loss to the Orlando Magic.
“I have everybody on my mind right now,” Spoelstra said. “There’ll be a lot of different directions. But we’ll just see. I don’t even know what the determination is right now. We’re talking about a lot of hypotheticals.”
Timetables for hamstring issues vary, with a hamstring issue removing Devin Booker from the Phoenix Suns’ first-round series against the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Heat’s series against the Hawks will run no longer than another week, with Game 4 Sunday at State Farm Arena and Game 5 on Tuesday at FTX Arena. If a Game 6 is needed, it would be Thursday in Atlanta, with a potential Game 7 scheduled for next Saturday in Miami.
Having turned 36 last month, Lowry has missed only one game due to injury this season, an Oct. 23 loss to the Indiana Pacers in the Heat’s road opener. Otherwise, his absences have been for rest, family reasons and the two games he missed in December in NBA health-and-safety protocols.
“I don’t get hurt,” he said Saturday.
While Lowry has opened defensively against Trae Young in the series’ first three games, the Heat have utilized a series of defenders, as well as traps and double-teams.
From a ballhandling standpoint, Vincent, Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro all have handled playmaking when Lowry has been off the court, with a Lowry absence potentially to increase Bam Adebayo’s role in that regard, as well.
Lowry is averaging 8.3 points and 5.3 assists in the series, at just .348 from the field. But he also has had just three turnovers in his 88:38 of action.
Butler said he appreciates the moment.
“I know we love that guy as our point guard,” he said. “And if he’s with us, yippee-ki-yay. If he’s not, somebody got to step in and do his job. And it’s very, very hard to do, but we’ve got enough in that locker room to try to bring to the table what Kyle does. He’ll get his treatment and we’ll see where he’s at.”
The last time Lowry missed a playoff game was in 2017 with the Toronto Raptors, when an ankle sprain kept him out of two games against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, a series Lowry and the Raptors were swept.
“I mean, at this point, for me, the playoffs is the most important time of the year, and this is why we’re here,” he said. “You know, I’ve got to be smart about every situation, though.”