Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra Gives Stern Order to Bam Adebayo

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra (left) and star big man Bam Adebayo

Getty Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra (left) and star big man Bam Adebayo

Ultimately, most medical decisions on NBA teams come down to a combination of the training staff’s assessment and the general feeling of the player himself. On Thursday, though, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra saw his star player struggling and took the reins, making the decision on the ongoing Bam Adebayo injury his own.

Spoelstra did not necessarily want to take Adebayo out of a game against an upstart Eastern Conference team like the Pacers, one that scored an impressive 73 first-half points on the Heat and led by 11 at the break. But he could tell that the Bam Adebayo injury was an issue that might only get worse.

“He came in those last four minutes of the second quarter and he was just getting some treatment at halftime with the intention to come back,” Spoelstra said after the game in his meeting with reporters. “And I basically talked to him in my office and just said, ‘Look, you’re laboring like the fourth quarter of the New York game and it’s November right now. I’m not putting you back in in the second half. I’m taking this decision out of your hands.’”

Spoelstra continued: “I didn’t even talk to the trainers at that point, I talked to them right after that. It’s the same deal.”

Bam Adebayo Injury an Ongoing Erik Spolestra Concern

Indeed, the Bam Adebayo injury to his hip has been an ongoing concern for Erik Spoelstra and the Heat, and it was obvious he was struggling against the Pacers. He was 3-for-9 shooting from the field for just seven points and was, as Spoelstra said, laboring.

Adebayo hurt the hip early in the year and, for the most part, it has been something he can play through. He is averaging 22.3 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists this year.

But last Friday in New York when the Heat lost thanks to a stunning fourth-quarter comeback from the Knicks, Adebayo again to play through the hip issue. He wound up going 1-for-6 in the final period, which saw the Knicks outscore Miami, 29-11, to come away with a 100-98 win.

The hip injury did cause Adebayo to miss the Miami Heat’s next game, in Brooklyn. But he came back with a vengeance four days later against the Bucks, logging 31 points, 10 rebounds and five assists on 13-for-27 shooting, seemingly laying to rest the worries about the state of the hip.

Miami Heat Rallied for Win

For the Miami Heat, the good news about the Bam Adebayo injury is twofold. For one thing, it is not believed to be a serious injury, just one that is flaring up now and will get better with time.

“It’s not, thankfully, something serious,” Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s just you play competitive NBA basketball, you get hit, you’re jumping and you’re twisting, all that stuff. He heals fast, so we’ll continue to treat him and see where we are.”

The other bit of good news is that, with Adebayo out, the Heat’s young combo forwards took the fore and showed they have something to contribute. Jimmy Butler (36 points) was the star, as always but Jaime Jaquez had the most impressive game of his rookie season, with 24 points—14 coming in the fourth quarter—and fellow forward Caleb Martin chipped in 14.

The win ended a three-game losing streak. The Heat get the Pacers again on Saturday.

Read More