The former Kentucky star is one of the team’s best players and had been out for nearly two months with a hand injury (he got injured in the first game of the Playoffs).
During the regular season, Herro averaged an impressive 20.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists per contest while shooting 43.9% from the field and 37.8% from the three-point range.
He is in his fourth season in the NBA (all with the Heat), and has helped them make the Playoffs in all four years (they have been to the Conference Finals three times and Finals twice in that span).
Herro has not played since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first round against Milwaukee. He has recovered from surgery to repair the fractures and has been doing shooting and some scrimmage work for several days in an effort to get back on the court.
“He’s done everything he needed to do,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said in Denver during his pregame media session. “We appreciate all the work that he’s put in. It’s been a long, whatever, six, seven weeks of this and he’s putting himself out there, available. It’s all hands on deck.”
Herro was listed as out for Game 5 when the initial Heat injury report for the game was released Sunday. The Heat upgraded him to questionable on Monday morning.
“You have to go through stages,” Spoelstra said last week when discussing Herro’s return. “First part of it was just shooting, then movement, then contact versus coaches and then the next level of contact in practice.”
Miami trails the finals 3-1. The Nuggets are seeking their first NBA title and need only one win to get it, with Game 5 — and Game 7, if necessary — both set to be played in Denver. If the Heat win on Monday, Game 6 would be in Miami on Thursday.
Herro also missed some time in last season’s playoffs with a groin injury. It sidelined him for three games of the East finals against Boston, before he returned for Game 7 and struggled in what became the final game of the season for the Heat.
“It’s just a really tough call and I’ll probably have to wrestle with that all summer,” he said after the game. “I’ve never been in an experience like this. I just know that the way this game was played is totally different than — you can’t even compare it. It’s another sport in the regular season. But first round, this is totally different, the way this game was played. Second round, totally different. Even the conference finals, the physicality and the way that they play, and I think they should have. This is what it should be about, is let the players decide.
“But that’s the hardest-played, most physical competition you can have, and that would be a tough thing for a guy that’s been out for two months that hasn’t had any kind of ramp up. But that won’t save me from thinking about that for the next few weeks.”
Herro was still experiencing a level of discomfort in the surgically repaired hand, sources had Adrian Wojnarowski.
Herro had been the Heat’s second-leading scorer this season, averaging 20.1 points while converting on 203 3-pointers in the regular season.
Actually, no. I can believe it, and so can the Nuggets. After Game 4 of the first round, when Jamal Murray was asked if he could have ever imagined himself thriving on this stage, he said yes. And when Bruce Brown was asked if he was pinching himself, he said no.
It took precisely one game in Denver for Aaron Gordon to feel the championship upside. “I see no limits for this team,” Gordon said on March 28, 2021. “It looks like we have all the pieces that we need.” Last summer, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who beat the Nuggets in the 2020 conference finals as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, said that he thought Denver would’ve advanced back then if Anthony Davis had missed his buzzer-beater in Game 2.
These Nuggets will be framed as the antithesis of a superteam, and this championship will be framed as a victory for the concepts of continuity and chemistry. It is true that Denver is not a glamour market, this group is homegrown and and the title represents the ultimate validation for the franchise deciding to stick it out with this coach and this core. But this is not some sort of underdog story. The 2022-23 Nuggets were a juggernaut.
Denver’s style is all its own, its offense a reflection of the one-of-a-kind supergenius at the center of it. As far as roster construction goes, though, it is a fairly conventional champion. The Nuggets are led by a two-time MVP big man who had a strong case to win it again this season. Next to him is a point guard who has technically never made an All-Star Game but has widely been considered an All-NBA type when healthy for a while now. Together those two are unpredictable and unstoppable in the two-man game, the backbone of a historically efficient offensive system in which nobody stands still and everybody is a threat.
This is a more-than-the-sum-of-its parts situation, but the parts are awesome. Michael Porter Jr. is on a max contract because he’s 6-foot-10 and makes contested 3s on the move. Gordon is a top-tier athlete and defender, and while he didn’t ever become Paul George, all that skill work has made him perfectly suited to star in this role, which sometimes calls for him to initiate offense and punish mismatches. Caldwell-Pope is not just the 3-and-D guy they were missing in previous years; he arrived having already done the job for a title team.
Denver’s bench is not terribly deep, but in the playoffs it developed an identity: Smallball, speed and switching. There’s a veteran big who spaces the floor (Jeff Green) and a rookie wing who doesn’t but makes up for it with deflections, timely cuts and offensive rebounds (Christian Braun). Their sixth man (Brown) had already demonstrated in Brooklyn that he could play meaningful minutes for a contender. In training camp, coach Michael Malone predicted that Brown would “close lots of big games for us.” Brown closed the clincher on Monday, as well as the previous three games against the Miami Heat, Games 2 and 3 of the conference finals against the Los Angeles Lakers and Game 2 against the Phoenix Suns.
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