Despite reports to the contrary, Tyler Herro may not make his NBA Finals debut as quickly as once expected. Herro, who hasn’t played since he sustained a broken right hand in the Miami Heat’s playoff opener, has been officially ruled out for Wednesday’s Game 3.
“We’re taking it one day at a time,” coach Erik Spoelstra said ahead of Wednesday night’s Game 3 against the Denver Nuggets. “But we’re encouraged by the work that he has been doing.”
Herro participated in Tuesday’s practice, will go through a full-contact workout later in the day, and then be evaluated Tuesday night and Wednesday morning before tip-off at Kaseya Center. Herro is listed as out on the latest injury report and was not made available to speak with reporters during Tuesday’s media availability.
This latest update comes on the heels of Herro telling ESPN Radio sideline reporter Ros Gold-Onwude that he’s still experiencing discomfort in his shooting hand.
“He told me he experiences both soreness and swelling in the right hand after shooting and he can feel the soreness when he’s making a ‘follow through’ shooting motion,” Gold-Onwude tweeted. “He also shared his consideration of not wanting to come back and mess up the rhythm of the team. While there was hope he’d return for Game 2 as he’s participating in all aspects of team practice, he’s making sure the time is right for his return to the court.”
Multiple reports by ESPN and NBA TV last week had indicated that Herro would be available for Wednesday’s Game 3, but the most recent reporting has thrown that timeline into question. In addition to Herro’s comments to Gold-Onwude, the Miami Herald and South Florida Sun-Sentinel both reported Monday that the expectation that Herro’s return during the Finals is inevitable has been overstated. From the Miami Herald:
"“A source who has spoken with Herro was skeptical of that network-reported timeline. That source said the expectation that Herro definitely will return during the Finals was a bit overstated and that he has a few hurdles to clear, including receiving medical clearance.”"
What does this mean for the Heat?
Beyond the question of could Herro return, there’s the other (perhaps more complicated) question of should he return? The Heat are tied 1-1 with Denver in these Finals, with Games 3 and 4 at home. Since Herro has been sidelined, the Heat have found an offensive rhythm, have been among the best defensive teams of the postseason and knocked off the top two seeds in the East.
On defense, Herro’s return could be an issue. After having not played in more than seven weeks, his timing could be a beat slow on rotations and open up Miami’s defense to easy Nuggets buckets. His presence in any lineup would give the Nuggets a weak-link to poke at.
Offensively, Herro’s ball-dominance could take the ball out of the hands of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry, who have each done a great job of generating shots for Miami’s shooters. Still, Herro’s shot-creation against Denver’s high-powered offense could be useful in pockets of this series.
If Herro is eventually cleared and Spoelstra can find the right spots to play him in, he could help the Heat. But, as Herro himself said, it’s fair to wonder if his return could “mess up the rhythm of the team.”