A quick look at the box score might lead one to believe that Bam Adebayo had an ineffectual night for the Miami Heat during Game 1 of their conference finals series against the Boston Celtics. In 37 minutes of play, he scored just 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting while adding four rebounds.
Of course, games aren’t won and lost in the box score — results come on the hardwood. And according to Heat star Jimmy Butler, what Adebayo did there on Tuesday night allowed his teammates to hit the spots they needed to in order to capture the 118-107 win.
“It allows me to be me, and so many other people to be themselves, too,” Butler said of Adebayo’s defense. “I’ve said it all year long — and I mean it — Bam’s really the engine behind us, and I don’t think stats really say all the numbers and how well of a game that he played.”
Added Butler: “He’s making people pass the ball where we want the ball to go and you’ve got to pay attention to him on both sides of the ball.”
Coming Up Big in the Key Moments
Boston actually put some serious points on the board against Adebayo throughout Game 1; the club scored a whopping 124 points per 100 possessions when he was on the court. That said, the big man made plays that helped turn the tide in the contest.
During the decisive third quarter — when the Heat went on a 22-2 run to wrest control — the one-time NBA All-Star came up with multiple stops to keep things rolling for the South Beach crew.
At the 6:56 mark, he pinned the ball to the backboard on a Jaylen Brown layup attempt, a play that ignited FTX Arena. Then, on the Celtics’ next possession, he found himself switched out onto Jayson Tatum on the perimeter, where he and Max Strus combined to force the All-Star into a turnover.
And, on ensuing possessions, his presence down low allowed Butler and the rest of the Heat to be more aggressive on the perimeter, which resulted in more steals and easy buckets.
Moreover, three of his four blocked shots came in the second half, during which the Cs missed four of their six attempts from the floor when Adebayo was the closest defender.
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Smart Could Return for Cs in Game 2
While the Heat were without the services of starting point-man Kyle Lowry in the game, the Celtics were shorthanded themselves. Big man Al Horford was a scratch due to health and safety protocols while reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart sat with a right mid-foot sprain.
However, Boston looks to be getting at least one of them back for Game 2, which figures to make life more difficult for Miami.
On the team’s latest injury report, Smart was listed as probable to return on Thursday night. Meanwhile, Horford is doubtful and forward Sam Hauser — who’s dealing with right shoulder instability — has already been ruled out as a participant.