Heat guard Tyler Herro (right hand) could return for Game 2 vs. Nuggets

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Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (right hand) could return for Game 2 vs Nuggets

Miami Heat star Tyler Herro (right hand) was ruled out for Game 1 of the 2023 NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets, but a return for Game 2 is realistic for the 6-foot-5 guard.

“I’m told that Game 2 on Sunday looms as a possibility for Tyler Herro,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Thursday. “He’ll have a couple more days here to test out that fractured right hand that has now healed. He’s on the court working out. Can that hand take contact?

“When a player comes back from an injury like that, you’re going to have to be ready to absorb contact. But certainly Sunday, Game 2 is something he will test it out for. But if not Sunday, Game 3 on Wednesday back in Miami — I think barring a setback, there’s confidence that Tyler Herro will be ready to return.”

According to a couple of NBA betting sites, the Denver Nuggets are the favorites to win the 2023 NBA Finals. Sportsbooks show Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler with second-shortest odds to win Finals MVP.

“I can’t even make any kind of proclamation until he takes these next important steps. That’s with contact and doing things more on the court live,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said on Wednesday. “We’re all encouraged by his progress that he’s made, but we want to continue to be responsible and make the best decisions. We’ll just see.”

In 67 starts of the regular season, Herro averaged 20.1 points and career highs of 5.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 34.9 minutes per game. The 2022 Sixth Man of Year also shot 43.9% from the field, 37.8% beyond the arc, and a career-best 93.4% at the foul line. Not to mention, he finished 18th in 3s with 203.

Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (right hand) may return as early as Sunday for Game 2 of the 2023 NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets

Furthermore, in Miami’s 111-108 win over the Houston Rockets on Dec. 15, Tyler Herro scored a career-high 41 points in 40 minutes as a starter. Along with notching six boards, two assists, one steal, and one block, the fourth-year guard shot 13-of-20 (65%) from the floor and 10-of-15 (66.7%) outside the arc.

Herro became the fourth Miami Heat player to hit 10 3-pointers in a single game, a record set by Duncan Robinson on Dec. 10, 2019. The Kentucky product joined Stephen Curry and James Harden as the only players in NBA history to make at least nine 3-pointers in consecutive games.

On Wednesday, TNT sideline reporter Chris Haynes reported that Tyler Herro is expected to return for Game 3 of the NBA Finals next Wednesday. Victor Oladipo (knee) is the only other Heat player listed on the injury report. The 10-year veteran remains out for the remainder of the season.

In April, Tyler Herro underwent surgery on his right shooting hand after diving for a loose ball in Miami’s Game 1 first-round win against the Milwaukee Bucks.

“I’m going to be working out every day, twice, two or three times a day, from here until the day I hopefully come back,” Herro said. “So, I’m just going to continue to work hard and see how my body responds day by day. I’m trying to come back as soon as possible.”

For Game 2 of the 2023 NBA Finals, sportsbooks show the Heat as 9-point road underdogs against Denver. Per ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, the Nuggets have a 78.7% chance of winning at home. Though, Miami is 5-1 in its last six matchups versus Western Conference opponents.

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