Instead of high notes, Heat and Kyle Lowry out of tune and in early trouble – The Denver Post


The goal, of course, was to hit the high notes under Kyle Lowry’s orchestration, such was the reasoning behind the 2021 sign-and-trade transaction that added Lowry at $85 million over three years.

At the moment, with the Miami Heat 1-3 heading into the three-game western swing that opens Wednesday against the undefeated Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center, it instead is all falling flat.

The question now is whether it is because the veteran point guard has been reduced to semi conductor.

Such was the risk of injecting Tyler Herro into a starting lineup that last season fueled the team’s run to the top regular-season record in the Eastern Conference, when Herro was playing as NBA Sixth Man of the Year.

On the eve of the season, coach Erik Spoelstra spoke of how having playmakers such as Herro, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo would allow Lowry to more often be able to play off the ball.

The reality is a shot menu that has left the Heat’s offense lagging, with a defense equally off kilter.

“I think we just got to continue to move the ball, make unselfish plays,” Lowry said long after the Heat fell at home Monday night to the Toronto Raptors. “I think that’s one thing, honestly, that we can do, that will help us is keeping the ball hopping and understanding what teams want to do against us. Yes, that’ll help.”

In last week’s season-opening loss to the shorthanded Chicago Bulls at the start of the Heat’s four-game homestand, there were only four assists from Lowry. Monday night there were only two from the 36-year-old veteran.

“I could probably have the ball a little bit longer, keep the ball in my hands a little bit more,” he said. “That could help. But I’m an unselfish player. So sometimes it’s called for you to kind of get off the ball and let the game come to you.”

When the Heat completed their August 2021 sign-and-trade transaction for Lowry, it was to get something close to a true playmaker. It is the reason Goran Dragic was swapped out to the Raptors, why the Heat were willing to give up on the promise of Precious Achiuwa, who closed with a career-high 22 rebounds Monday against the Heat.

Now Lowry is left to navigate a landscape that has Herro trying to be dynamic off the dribble, that has center Bam Adebayo focused on playing more often in attack mode.

“We’ve got guys who can really play basketball,” Lowry said quietly, respectfully. “We’ve got guys who can really make plays, and we’ve just got to all find ways to mix and match, not take turns, but figure out how to play off each other a little bit better, and play with each other a little bit better.

“Honestly, everybody has a different role this year, things are a little bit different, right? Tyler’s in the starting lineup, and Bam’s more aggressive. We’ve got different lineups with this, that and the other, and we’re just trying to figure it out right now.”

So a team built around 3-point shooting has failed to generate such a consistent shot diet. A team built on veteran moxie has committed heinous turnovers at some of the worst possible moments. And, so, 1-3, a season-opening homestand squandered.

Lowry said it’s not for a lack of wont or want.

“I think a lot of guys always go into the summertime and continue to get better,” Lowry said of his younger teammates trying to put those skills on early display. “Here, a team like this, Coach Spo said we’ve got young ambitious guys and we’ve got old veteran guys and we’ve got to find a way for all of us to bring it together. It’s 15 of us. We’ve got to find a way to kind of all be on the same page.

“And I think we’re a good team and we know each other well. We’ve just got to figure out how to grow and continue to grow, and not be inconsistent one game and the next game. And I’m not talking about playing wise, I’m just talking about the style of play. That’s one thing. You’re going to miss shots and shots are going to not go in, but at the same time, you can play the same exact way every day.”

With the Raptors, Lowry taking turns off the ball led to a championship in 2019 with center Marc Gasol running the offense similar to what the Heat do with Adebayo, with off-guard Fred VanVleet seizing the playmaking as Herro has attempted, with Kawhi Leonard leading through a bigger-muscle game similar to Butler, with Pascal Siakam also working in lockstep.

The question is whether this cast is up to similar cohesion, simply out of tune at the moment.

“We’re just trying to figure it out,” Lowry said. “I mean, honestly, it’s four games in. I think we’re trying to figure it out. I know we said running it back, and I agree with that, but we still have different guys in different roles in different situations. So we have to figure it out, how to all be on the same page.”



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