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Tomase: Kyle Lowry tops list of Heat players we love to hate

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Kyle Lowry

The Celtics are about to see the Heat for the third time in the last four Eastern Conference Finals, so it's natural to feel some animosity towards Jimmy Butler and Co.

The Heat sent the Celtics home in disarray from the 2020 bubble, the Celtics returned the favor last year, and on Wednesday, the two squads will open yet another series with a berth in the NBA Finals at stake.

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That's a lot of games to get a feel for a team, and while Butler may be universally respected as a big-game killer, the rest of the Heat? Ehh. They're actually pretty detestable.

Here are three of them who are easy to hate, and that's not even including the injured Tyler Herro, who otherwise would've made this list for his pouty petulance.

1. Kyle Lowry

Listen, Lowry is a baller who earned his title in Toronto, but he's 37 years old and kinda dumpy now, and thus must compensate for diminished athleticism with heightened theatrics.

Lowry is going to spend most of this series splayed all over the court pleading for fouls he just sold with an MFA from Julliard. Every screener should prepare for the sight of Lowry being shot out of a cannon, and he's inevitably going to draw calls with melodramatic tumbles that would lead Mark Jackson to bemoan to Jeff Van Gundy, "That's not a foul, coach," if ABC were calling the series instead of TNT.


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Part of the reason the Heat play such a messy, physical, grinding style is because Lowry is no longer capable of anything else. He's the old guy at the Y who's all elbows and jersey pulls and charley horses because these kids today, "are just TOO DAMN QUICK!"

He's also going to step into a 3 to beat the halftime buzzer and get crafty around the rim as he bumper-cars his way through traffic. Miami will undoubtedly be in the middle of a 15-0 run where he draws a charge on one end and rips the net from downtown on the other, and it will fill Celtics fans with rage. Be prepared for at least a week of this.

2. Max Strus

The Celtics whiffed on Strus in 2019 when they made him their last cut in favor of Javonte Green, and he has tried to make them regret it ever since, in as annoying a way as possible.

When Strus drills a 3, he lets you know it. When a foul doesn't go his way, his face registers as half incredulous, half sourpuss, and Butler has been recorded telling him to, "Chill out, Max," when he can't let a call go. Like the rest of the Heat, he is perfectly OK mucking up the game with physical, handsy defense to keep the pace more to Miami's grind-it-out liking.

Strus was in the middle of one of the most controversial moments of last year's Game 7 in Miami, when his third quarter 3-pointer was overturned minutes after the fact because replay determined he had stepped out of bounds, even though it didn't conclusively appear his heel had actually touched the boundary.

Strus is shooting 37 percent on 3's in the playoffs, so if Miami is going to steal a game, he'll probably be smugly in the middle of it.

3. Kevin Love

Love has reached the 17th hole of his career and is just a supporting player in Miami who's a few gray hairs shy of Tom McMillan, but consider this a lifetime achievement award for the 15-year veteran.

I was there the day he showed up at Fenway Park in 2014 and met Celtics guard Rajon Rondo for a Red Sox game, leading to rampant speculation that the longtime apple of Danny Ainge's eye might actually find his way to Boston.

Instead, Love soon left Minnesota in a trade with the hated Cavaliers, winning a title with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in 2016. Love made four playoff appearances in Cleveland, and the Cavs eliminated the Celtics three times, including back-to-back conference title tilts in 2017 and 2018.

At this point in his career, Love is basically an outlet passer and occasional 3-point shooter whom the Celtics will look to exploit on defense every chance they get. He is particularly skilled at taking charges, and his attempt to draw one in the first round led to the Giannis Antetokounmpo back injury that helped Miami pull off the upset of the Bucks.


In that sense, I suppose the Celtics owe Love their thanks. But otherwise, we will continue to hold the Cleveland years against him, because it's what we do.