The playoffs are tough again for Heat’s Adebayo, with 28 points in three games; Improved Hawks Capela – Sun Sentinel
ATLANTA — Somehow, Bam Adebayo is back to where he was in last year’s playoffs, a nominal contributor with minimal offensive impact.
The difference is that last year the Milwaukee Bucks were whole, while completely uninterested in just packing the paint on the Miami Heat center. The result was Adebayo averaging 15.5 points per game as the Heat were knocked out of the first round.
This time, the scoring average fell to 9.3 points in the first three games of this opening series against the Atlanta Hawks. The difference is there’s a 2-1 lead in the Heat going into Sunday’s Game 4 at 7 p.m. at State Farm Arena.
Adebayo’s answer to solve the problem?
“Go watch a movie and figure it out,” he said.
In last season’s playoffs, there was the bulk of 7-foot Brook Lopez planted in the paint for the Bucks. This time around, the Hawks have been without defensive backing Clint Capela so far, with the Atlanta center sidelined by a hyperextended knee suffered two days before the start of this series.
But if the streak is extended, that could change, with Capela back on the field in Hawks practice and upgraded to questionable for Sunday. In the past two games, the Hawks have started 6-foot-9 John Collins at center, with Adebayo outplayed by Atlanta backup center Onyeka Okongwu at times.
Adebayo had his moments against the Hawks during the regular season. After missing the first two meetings of the season with thumb surgery, he had 21 points in a 110-108 loss on Jan. 21 at Atlanta and then 24 points in a 113- 109 against the Hawks on April 8 at FTX Arena.
So far in this series, Adebayo has had 6, 9 and 13 point games.
In the 2020 playoffs, when the Heat advanced to the NBA Finals, Adebayo averaged 17.8 points on .564 shooting. He shoots .450 in this series.
“Get ready for Sunday and try to go up 3-1,” is his outlook.
Just a week ago, Adebayo returned from NBA health and safety protocols, after being away from the team for six days.
“Finding my way,” he said Saturday of his return from COVID. “Getting my steps, putting my feet under me. Taking game by game.
In his opinion, Adebayo said the focus should be on defense, which is where he felt the Heat allowed Friday night’s 111-110 loss to slip away.
“Just a lack of our defensive presence,” he said. “I feel like that’s why we were so big. We were getting on the ball, being physical and just taking out their easy walks to get easy baskets. I feel like we’re getting on the ball. is a bit let go.”
Like Adebayo, sixth man Tyler Herro had been largely quiet offensively through the first two games of the series, with 21 total points.
That changed with Friday’s 24-point performance, but even with that production, the Heat were still outscored by 21 when the third-year guard was on the field.
For long stretches, the Hawks’ Game 3 offense was little more than gauging Herro and Duncan Robinson defensively, with Robinson held at 14:23 by fouls.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say they were going after him,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of Herro on the defensive end. “He was in some of the triggers, but he gave us big hits and play that we needed throughout the game.
“And I’ll have to go back to the movie and see, in that fourth quarter, what was real and what was great shooting from them.”
Hawks coach Nate McMillan did not commit to Capela’s status, even though the team promoted him to questionable for Game 4.
“Nothing has changed so far,” he said after practice on Saturday. “He works a little on the ground. But as far as updates are concerned, nothing has changed.
“Every day we see where he is, and if we can increase what he does, we try to do that.”