MIAMI (BVM) – Back when the Miami Heat last made it to the NBA Finals during the 2020 bubble season, guard Gabe Vincent was a rookie and didn’t truly contribute to the team’s run to the final round. In fact, Vincent only played a whopping 15 seconds in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals win against the Milwaukee Bucks. Fast forward to today and the Miami Heat likely wouldn’t be nearly as successful as they’ve been this postseason without Vincent’s contributions.
In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, Vincent scored a playoff career-high 17 points while also adding two rebounds, three assists and three blocks across 34 minutes during the Heat’s 118-107 win. This is just the most recent of Vincent’s critical contributions to Miami’s postseason where he has averaged 8.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists over 24.7 minutes played in 12 games.
“After half, I definitely wanted to be more aggressive but I was thinking more about defense,” Vincent said. “Everything they had in the first half was way too easy and I was just trying to make plays defensively and pick our pace up.”
While Vincent’s play has been something of a catalyst for the Heat, it also couldn’t have come at a better time. After starting point guard Kyle Lowry got hurt in Game 3 of the NBA playoffs opening round against the Atlanta Hawks, Vincent has been the guard to step up in the starter’s absence. And boy has he ever, as the Heat are unbeaten (7-0) when Vincent is in the starting lineup. Not bad for a guy who was used for just 15 seconds during the last postseason run.
The team recognizes the importance of Vincent too.
“Gabe is a great competitor and he’s been able to shapeshift into different roles which is really important, that is a talent and I think that speaks to his mental makeup, his competitive character, his mental stability to take on different roles,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s all about winning and he’s going to embrace whatever role it is and you can’t have enough guys like that.”
Not only has Vincent earned the respect of his own teammates, but of his competitive peers. Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young, who competed head-to-head with Vincent in the opening round, was quick to give the guard his well-deserved respect on a tweet by the NBA about the Heat’s playoff run that didn’t include Vincent.
Y’all better find a way to put Gabe Vincent up here too lol fr though https://t.co/6AKruBgDux
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) May 13, 2022
Fortunately, the Miami Heat social media team rectified the situation. Vincent also responded by tipping his hat to his adversary.
Respect bro. https://t.co/Kh5wMQNs41
— Gabe Nnamdi Vincent (@iamgabevincent2) May 13, 2022
While Vincent may not have had the biggest role for the Heat during the regular season, averaging 8.7 points, 3.1 assists and 1.9 rebounds in just over 23 minutes per game in 68 games played, he has made himself one of the most important players of the team’s postseason run. Even if Lowry is able to return to full form before the end of the playoffs, don’t expect Vincent’s role to diminish too much, he has earned his due and the respect of others.
Time will tell if Vincent is truly the team’s lucky charm and if their unbeaten play with him as a starter will last, but one thing is certain: Gabe Vincent has home in the NBA for the foreseeable future.