Heat will be without key role player in Game 5 vs. Celtics


The Miami Heat role players have outplayed their Boston Celtics counterparts for most of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals. That challenge will be tougher for the Heat on Thursday night with Gabe Vincent unable to play in Game 5 at TD Garden due to a left ankle sprain.

The 26-year-old point guard suffered the injury in the second half of the Celtics' Game 4 win in Miami on Tuesday night. Vincent played one more possession and then exited the game without returning. 

Vincent has played fantastic in this series. After averaging 9.4 points per game during the regular season, Vincent is scoring 17.5 per game against the Celtics, including a 29-point outburst in Miami's Game 3 victory. He has been particularly effective from 3-point range by hitting 11 of his 22 attempts over four games.

Vincent's absence likely will result in Kyle Lowry getting more minutes in Game 5. Lowry hasn't played well in this series. He's averaging 6.8 points on 35.5 percent shooting. Miami also has been outscored by a wide margin during his minutes.

The Heat still have a commanding 3-1 series lead, but a loss in Game 5 could start to put enormous pressure on Miami. No team in NBA playoff history has lost a series after jumping out to a 3-0 lead.