With Butler limited, Adebayo delivers for Heat
Adebayo had his best series since the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals.
The Miami Heat didn’t have the Jimmy Butler from the first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks last night. While he scored a team-high 24 points and made 11 trips to the foul line, he shot an inefficient 7-of-22 from the field. He missed some shots he usually makes. He took some ill-advised shots.
The sprained ankle he suffered earlier in this series is probably still limiting him, and it’s good the Heat will be off until Wednesday for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
With Butler limited, the Heat needed someone else to pick up the slack offensively. And last night, Bam Adebayo delivered.
He scored 17 of his 23 points in the first half, feasting on pick-and-rolls with Kyle Lowry when other elements of the Heat offense looked anemic — Miami knocked down just two 3-pointers before intermission, and Butler had scored nine points in the first half.
But Adebayo also made two huge baskets in the fourth quarter. With the Heat clinging to a one-point lead, he knocked down a 17-foot jumper to put Miami up three with 7:34 left to go. And with 1:05 left, a Knicks double-team on Butler led Gabe Vincent to find Adebayo under the basket. The Heat center slammed it home and withstood late contact from Julius Randle, though no foul was called. That put the Heat up 92-86.
Jimmy Butler carried the Heat throughout their playoff run last year. In Game 2 of their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, Butler scored 45 points. Adebayo, by contrast, had just nine. Throughout the entire playoff run last year, Adebayo averaged just 14.8 points per game. His underwhelming offensive performance in the playoffs led him to say he wanted to get closer to taking 18 shots per game at training camp in September 2022.
Adebayo is always excellent on the defensive end on the floor, but the Heat need him to be excellent on both ends to win a championship. During this series against the Knicks, we saw Adebayo recapture some of his play from the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals, when he led Miami averaging 21.8 points per game.
The Heat are back in the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in four years since Butler joined the Heat. With Butler healing up and Adebayo staying aggressive, Miami can go to the NBA Finals.
Bam is definitely one of my favorites on this heat team. He gives you everything, whether it be defending 1-5 , rebounding, scoring, passing, hustle and effort plays. Also Dho ,screens, pNr, and accountability among other things. He also puts in the work, which is why he gets better each and every year. I think he still has more potential to grow offensively and defensively, and it's crazy that he doesn't even have Dpy yet, but gobert, and smart have one before him. Also he is top 5 in almost every defensive metric that has to do with different schemes like blitzing, drop coverage, on ball, off ball,switching, and zone just to name some examples. Bam is already a great player, but just imagine if he adds a 3 point shot Ala bosh within 2 to 3 years....sky's the limit.
Interesting take on Miami's recent success.