Former Cavs player believes Gabe Vincent’s absence could tip Boston Celtics-Miami Heat series

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Gabe Vincent is unlikely to play for the Miami Heat on Thursday when they try again to eliminate the Boston Celtics and advance to the NBA Finals. Former Cleveland Cavaliers player and podcast cohost Channing Frye said Vincent’s absence will be more impactful than many think, and it could help the Celtics in their pursuit of a historic series comeback.

Miami’s starting point guard sprained his ankle trying to save a loose ball in the fourth quarter of Game 4, and though he returned to the game after getting taped up, he has been ruled out for Game 5.

Kyle Lowry is likely to start in his place with the series returning to Boston after two games at Miami. He started 44 games during the regular season but none so far this postseason.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said Vincent worked out this morning but is not fit to play.

“He is feeling better, just not quite good enough to play an Eastern Conference Finals game,” Spoelstra told reporters. “But that’s why the guys respect him so much. He was doing everything he possibly could to get out there.”

Vincent, who has has started all 15 games this postseason, was critical to Miami building a 3-0 lead in the series, including a game-high 29 points in a 128-102 win in Game 3. His 17.5 points per game in this series is third on the Heat, behind Jimmy Butler (26.8) and Caleb Martin (18.5), and slightly ahead of Bam Adebayo (16.3) in Miami’s balanced attack.

Lowry has played well at times when called upon this postseason and has been averaging 6.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists in the four games of this series so far. An NBA champion with the Toronto Raptors in 2019, the 37-year-old scored 15 points in the 123-116 win in Game 1.

After winning the first two games on the road before taking Game 3 in Miami, the Heat led Game 4 by nine points in the third quarter but were unable to finish off the Celtics, who used an 18-0 run on the way to a 116-99 season-saving victory.

Boston is trying to become the first team in NBA history to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first three games. Three teams have come back to even a series but then lost Game 7.

Miami has played the entire conference finals without injured guards Tyler Herro (broken hand) and Victor Oladipo (torn patellar tendon).

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.