Damian Lillard Sends Message to Bam Adebayo After Bucks Beat Heat

Bam Adebayo

Getty Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat.

The Milwaukee Bucks eliminated the Miami Heat from the NBA’s In-Season Tournament tournament on November 28, winning 131-124.

Heat center Bam Adebayo led the team with 31 points, also chipping in 10 rebounds and five assists. It was Adebayo’s highest-scoring game of the season so far, and the 26-year-old big’s 10th double-double. After Milwaukee’s win, Bucks star Damian Lillard gave Bam his flowers.

“I’m real close with Bam,” Lillard told Five Reasons Sports after the Bucks’ win. “After the game, I told him: ‘You got better.’ I always loved his game, but he actually got better. He knows I wouldn’t just say that.”

Lillard, of course, had wanted to be traded to Miami over the summer, but his former general manager over in Portland, Joe Cronin, preferred Milwaukee as a trade partner. The two teams have played each other twice so far this season, in Milwaukee on October 30 and in Miami on the 28th. The Bucks won both matchups, although Adebayo didn’t play in the October matchup.

Damian Lillard Is Right About Bam Adebayo

In the November 28 loss to Milwaukee, the Heat were extremely shorthanded. Miami was without star Jimmy Butler, who is dealing with a right ankle sprain. Starting shooting guard Tyler Herro (ankle) and starting forward Haywood Highsmith (lower back) also missed the game.

“It’s a shame,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told the South Florida Sun Sentinel after the loss to Milwaukee, “because I thought we played a very good basketball game. I felt like we did enough to at least put ourselves in a better shot to win the game.”

The Heat shot well, particularly beyond the arc. Miami made 51.1% of its shots from the field and went 14-of-30 from distance (46.7%). Adebayo was all over the court, with eight of his 10 rebounds coming on defense. He also finished with two blocks in the loss.

“He was just super assertive. That’s what we really need from Bam,” Spoelstra said about Adebayo. “Bam was relentless all game long, and that just shows his capacity to do it on both ends. There’s no rest for him on the other end.”

Bam Adebayo Is Looking to Make Noise on Defense This Season

Adebayo mentioned prior to the start of the 2023-24 season that he was aiming to win Defensive Player of the Year. He’s currently averaging 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks in 34.9 minutes per game. He’ll need to get both of those numbers up if he wants to win the aforementioned hardware, but his season is off to an excellent start so far.

“I think that’s a good award to go for,” Spoelstra said about Bam’s DPOY goals, via Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “A lot of awards I think can potentially get in the way of winning. I think that one is a great one and I don’t think he’s going to take himself out of anything. I think he just has to be who he is, do what he does and just be that dynamic force on that end of the court. Then I think he’s going to get recognized for that and hopefully we’ll have a great defense this year and he leads us on that end of the court.”