Report: Caleb Martin misses Miami Heat practice before Game 2 vs. Denver Nuggets

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Caleb Martin will not practice with the Miami Heat on Saturday leading into Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night.

Martin managed only three points on 1-for-7 shooting in Game 1 on Thursday, a 104-93 loss. It was a surprising outing after the forward scored 26 points in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics and helped the Heat to a 103-84 victory. But perhaps his illness is the explanation for the drop-off.

Martin has emerged as a valuable player for the Heat, especially after they lost Tyler Herro to injury in their opening game of the playoffs. A veteran NBA scout told the Miami Herald that Martin “has played out of his mind entering the Finals.”

“He has played out of his mind entering the Finals,” the scout said. “The question is if it’s something he can maintain at this level or close to it. The fact he has done it at this time of the year is significant. Boston didn’t pay attention to him. He will be on the scouting report more.”

The scout was speaking prior to Game 1 of the Finals. Martin was averaging 14.1 points per game in the playoffs through the conference finals, third on Miami behind Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Martin averaged 9.6 points per game during the regular season, while Herro averaged 20.1 points per game.

Martin’s play during the playoffs has caused Paul Pierce to say that Herro’s injury may have been a blessing in disguise for the Heat. The Celtics chose to cheat off Martin on defense, and he said the strategy was “a sign of disrespect.”

Herro may be able to return from a broken hand that required surgery and play in Game 2. That would be good news for the Heat, who will need as much offense as they can muster at Ball Arena, where the Nuggets are undefeated in nine games this postseason.

Butler has vowed to be more aggressive on offense after Miami managed just two free-throw attempts in Game 1. The Heat star scored only 13 points, his lowest output of the playoffs, and combined with Martin’s uncharacteristic poor shooting, Miami was chasing the game throughout.

Butler has been sensational in the playoffs and was named MVP of the Eastern Conference Finals. His stellar play has one scout vaulting him into the upper echelon of NBA players, moving from the top 20 into the top 10.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.