The Miami Heat will unfortunately need to take the hardest of roads to get that one more win they've been craving since taking a 3-0 lead earlier in these Eastern Conference Finals. The Boston Celtics managed to pull off the impossible and win three straight to force a Game 7 on their home floor Monday night.
It goes without saying that Miami will need Playoff Jimmy Butler to show up if it wants to make the NBA Finals. For an eight seed, the Heat have exceeded all expectations. They weren't supposed to be here, but an underrated cast of characters led by Butler is the reason why Miami has made it this far. Bam Adebayo is also expected to play like the All-Star he was this past season. Though he hasn't been playing well in these Eastern Conference Finals, Adebayo will still have some heavy duty lifting to do if Miami wants to play for a title.
With that said, the Heat will need an unsung hero to step up and be that X-factor in Game 7. Players like Gabe Vincent and Caleb Martin have functioned as such throughout the playoffs, continuing to make a massive impact during against the Celtics. But for Miami in Game 7, its X-factor must be veteran guard Kyle Lowry.
Heat X-factor vs. Celtics: Kyle Lowry
Let's just say it straight up: Lowry has been downright awful for the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
After opening the series with a terrific 15-point performance in Game 1, Lowry has averaged just 5.0 points over the last five games. He is shooting a putrid 33.3 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from the three-point line. He also committed four turnovers in both of Miami's terrible blowout losses in Games 4 and 5.
The Heat will need Lowry to turn back the clock and be the productive and efficient veteran they've asked him to be if they want to advance to the NBA Finals.
Lowry's initial move to the bench worked wonders for the Heat and head coach Erik Spoelstra. That move opened the door for Gabe Vincent, who has thrived as the starting point guard, especially in the postseason. In the playoffs, Vincent is averaging 13.3 points and 3.9 assists while shooting 38.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, Lowry has been productive and more efficient in a reduced role, at least through the first two rounds of the playoffs. In that span, he averaged 10.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 44.2 percent from the field and nearly 36 percent on threes.
In reality, that's all the Heat will ever need from Lowry — good jump-shooting, consistent playmaking and his calming veteran presence on the floor. He won't have to play like he did when he was a perennial All-Star with the Toronto Raptors, though it would be great if he turned back the clock for a vintage performance.
As good as Miami's unsung role players have been, they will need a steady hand to rely on. Though he's already carrying a lot of mileage on that 37-year-old body, Lowry isn't afraid to scrap, fight and get gritty.
Kyle Lowry certainly knows what it's like. He's a champion. And he'll need to bring his A-game for the Heat on Monday night for a chance to return to the NBA Finals.