Heat rule Kyle Lowry out for Game 1 vs. Sixers; Joel Embiid going through concussion protocol

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Heat rule Lowry out for Game 1; Embiid going through concussion protocol originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

CAMDEN, N.J. -- The Heat ruled Kyle Lowry out early Sunday afternoon for Game 1 of their second-round playoff matchup with the Sixers on Monday night in Miami.

Lowry suffered a left hamstring strain during Game 3 of the Heat's first-round series win over the Hawks and has yet to return.

Miami also listed Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Max Strus, P.J. Tucker, Caleb Martin and Markieff Morris as questionable. The Heat will often officially designate players as questionable, then later say they are "warming up with the intent to play." Butler (right knee inflammation) and Herro (illness) both told reporters Saturday that they'll play in Game 1.

Gabe Vincent started in Lowry's place for Miami's victories in Game 4 and 5 against Atlanta. He played well in the Heat's two regular-season wins over the Sixers, totaling 42 points on 14-for-24 shooting (11 for 18 from three-point range).

For the Sixers, Joel Embiid will miss the beginning of this series after suffering a right orbital fracture and mild concussion Thursday night during the Sixers' close-out win in Toronto. Embiid had also been playing through a torn ligament in his right thumb.

Passing through concussion protocols is not automatically a straightforward process, since players must clear multiple steps. Still, Doc Rivers didn't dismiss the notion that Embiid could be back during the Miami series.

"There's hope, obviously, but I don't know," Rivers said Saturday. "I just think we have to let him get through the process and see where he's at."

Rivers said after practice Sunday that he's spoken with Embiid recently, but the Sixers head coach had no updates on the five-time All-Star's status.

Though Embiid was sidelined for 10 games when he sustained a left orbital fracture four years ago, that injury required surgery. A speedier return could be on the table here. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported "there's optimism he could return as soon as either Game 3 or 4."

Few players are in optimal health by the second round of the playoffs -- Georges Niang has been sporting a sleeve on his left leg, for instance -- but the Sixers appear in a decent place health-wise with the very large exception of Embiid. Rookie center Charles Bassey has participated in the team's last two practices after sitting out the Raptors series with a right shoulder injury. Rivers said Saturday the Sixers "may need all four guys" at center behind Embiid, which includes Bassey, Paul Reed, DeAndre Jordan and Paul Millsap. Tobias Harris is another possible option for center minutes.

A Sixers-Heat series presumably won't contribute to the players on the floor feeling better physically anytime soon.

"I'm going to the game thinking it's a fight," Niang said. "If I'm going into a fight, I'd rather hit than be hit. So I'm not going in thinking it's going to be any less physical ... I'm going in thinking it's going to be a brawl. Once you get closer and closer to the championship, that's really what it comes down to. So I expect it to be an extremely physical series."