Tyler Herro was back in the Miami Heat mix for Sunday night’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics at FTX Arena, after missing the previous three games with a groin strain.
Herro has been listed as questionable earlier in the day, before the announcement of his availability two hours before Sunday’s opening tip.
“Right now it’s all hands on deck,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He passed his testing with the trainers. He’s really been working diligently the last few days.
“Each day he’s made significant improvement, and he was able to do shootaround this morning, but more importantly he was able to do things in the training room and pass those tests to be available.”
Of Herro returning, Celtics coach Ime Udoka said pregame, “No difference, no change.”
Heat center Bam Adebayo said he appreciated the caution.
“It’s a sensitive injury,” he said. “So, got to take his time.”
Herro, the 2022 NBA Sixth Man of the Year, previously last played in the Heat’s May 21 Game 3 victory over the Celtics at TD Garden, when he closed 4 of 15 from the field in an uneven eight-point performance.
He then sat out the following three games, in each case listed as questionable until being declared out shortly before game time.
Herro had somewhat of a breakout performance in the series opener against the Celtics, when he closed with 18 points and eight rebounds.
The other four players listed as questionable earlier also were cleared to play: Kyle Lowry, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent with hamstring strains, and P.J. Tucker with knee irritation. Those four all have played the past week while listed with those ailments.
For the Celtics, guard Marcus Smart (ankle) and center Robert Williams (knee) also were back on the injury report earlier in the day as questionable, a designation that did not keep them out of the Heat’s Game 6 victory in Boston. Both were in the Celtics’ starting lineup Sunday.
The Celtics remain without rookie guard Sam Hauser, who is dealing with a right-shoulder instability episode.
Spoelstra did not attempt to downplay the magnitude of the moment.
Of his words to the team after the morning shootaround, he said, “I told the guys when we brought it in, like, ‘Good luck trying to take a nap.’ “
Adebayo said little was left to be said.
“Win or go home. That’s the game seven, win or go home,” he said. “It sounds pretty cliche when people say it, but it’s really the last go round in this series.”
So, Spoelstra said, embrace the moment.
“I think more than anything, as competitors, you just want to have great gratitude for this opportunity and embrace the competition and everything that Game 7 will present,” he said.
But that didn’t mean strategy also wasn’t addressed, including maintaining focus on the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
“We just have to continue to take away some of the comfort things that can get them going,” he said. “It’s easier said than done.
“And if we do get the ball out of their hands, we have to be a whole lot better on our closeouts and containing the other guys, who are extremely dangerous.”