NBA Coach Singles Out Heat’s Bam Adebayo Ahead of Celtics Series

Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat.

Getty Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat.

While Jimmy Butler has been the face of the Miami Heat‘s shocking playoff run, Bam Adebayo may be the driving force behind a potential NBA Finals berth.

An anonymous Eastern Conference Coach who spoke with Heavy Sports‘ Sean Deveney singled out Adebayo, saying he has to “show up” for the series against the Boston Celtics.

“The one thing for the Heat is they need to have Bam really show up,” the coach said. “When he is flexing offensively out there, forget it. The Celtics had no shot against him when he was at his peak in last year’s series, he had that big game in Game 2. He can do that again. But he needs four or five of those kinds of performances for them to have a chance here. Last year, he did that against them just ONE time. Does he have more in him?”

Deveney’s source then highlighted Adebayo’s role in the many zone defenses head coach Erik Spoelstra likes to roll out.

“One of the things that throws off so many teams against Miami is that zone defense,” the source added. “No one runs it like them. No one gets buy-in on it like them. They do it five, 10 times as much as other teams. Usually a 2-3, sometimes a 1-1-3 but they design it to take advantage of what Bam can do, how he can guard all five positions and still recover and help and all of that. Most guys won’t play zone too much because it is like a test of their manhood, you know? You play zone in high school, not the NBA. To most guys, playing zone means you’re looking for an easy way out, you’re not tough enough. But with the Heat, it is, check your ego at the door, this is how we are doing it now.”

Celtics Have Pieces to Bust Heat’s Zones

The zone is undoubtedly a staple of Spoelstra’s coaching style. He loves to disrupt the offensive flow of Miami’s opponents by showing them defenses that are a bit abnormal.

However, Boston is one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the NBA, making them well equipped to break down a zone defense (even though in the past I’ve watched them melt with my own two eyes). They ranked second in attempts from beyond the arc this season at 42.6 per game, while knocking them down at the sixth-most efficient clip, 37.7%.

“Boston has seen this now in three playoffs in a row [three of four, actually],” the coach explained. “When the Heat go from their crazy, wild, man defense to their zone, it is not going to be a tough adjustment for Boston like it is for other teams. Now they got the ballhandlers—Smart, Derrick White, Brogdon—to bust the zone and they got the shooters to bust the zone. Al Horford is a key because if he is making 3s, Bam has to go with him and then the whole defense falls apart.”

He went on to label Celtics center Robert Williams III as key to making the Heat move away from the zone.

“Rob Williams needs to be out there, too. He has to. The lob play is such a vital thing to have against the zone, the Celtics did it a lot against the zone in the Bubble with (Daniel) Theis. But now you have Rob Williams, forget it. He is a great zone-buster and even when he is not, he is a great decoy.”

Erik Spoelstra Rules Tyler Herro Out of Heat-Celtics Game 1

One guy who won’t be manning Miami’s many zones, at least in Game 1, is Tyler Herro. Spoelstra officially ruled the 23-year-old out of the series opener, telling reporters that he hasn’t been able to shoot with his broken hand.

“The good thing about a hand is that you’re able to do other things with that,” Spoelstra told reporters on Monday. “But he can’t shoot, he can’t dribble… He won’t be playing on Wednesday. Is that fair enough?”

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