Observations and other notes of interest from Sunday’s 106-98 victory over the Atlanta Hawks:
– Remember when that Bam Adebayo five-year, $163 million extension was viewed by some as unsightly?
– Remember when you simply couldn’t pay that much for solely a defensive player?
– Remember when the entire offensive package was questioned?
– And now consider this: Is Bam Adebayo the Heat’s best player?
– With Jimmy Butler again out of view with the knee pain that had him back in Miami, Adebayo on Sunday again very much had the look of a leading man.
– Again on both ends of the court.
– Yes, the Hawks were without center Clint Capela.
– And that certainly mattered.
– But in the absence of Butler, as well as some of the Heat’s shooters, Adebayo again showed he is capable of more.
– And capable of leading.
– With a fierceness on the defensive end.
– And a silky shooter’s touch on the other end.
– Very much with the look of an All-Star.
– It used to be that Adebayo would defer.
– Now it’s Kyle Lowry deferring to Adebayo.
– And perhaps Butler to do so, as well.
– And Adebayo has been needed, with a severely limited bench.
– This time not only was Butler again out, but also Duncan Robinson, with Nikola Jovic dealing with foot pain and Gabe Vincent knee pain.
– So the bench on Sunday was composed of Dewayne Dedmon, Haywood Highsmith, Jamal Cain and Smith.
– That’s one journeyman center (Dedmon).
– Two two-way players (Cain, Smith).
– And the lone player on the standard roster without a fully guaranteed contract (Highsmith).
– To his credit, Dedmon played well and offered needed relief when Adebayo dared take a rest.
– With Max Strus back after missing two games with a shoulder impingement, he was back in the starting lineup, replacing Jovic, who had started the previous six games.
– The opening lineup was rounded out by Adebayo, Caleb Martin, Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry.
– That lineup had started two previous games, going 1-1.
– While it was a smaller lineup than the one that had featured Jovic, coach Erik Spoelstra said it did not require any significant strategic adjustment.
– “Not really, no,” Spoelstra said. “It’s pretty similar.”
– Martin had been questionable due to the non-COVID illness that is going around the locker room.
– Instead, he offered another solid performance, even tossing in some Eurostep offense.
– In addition to Butler missing his sixth consecutive game due to knee pain, Duncan Robinson missed his third consecutive game due to an ankle sprain.
– Several players who had been on the injury report due to injury or illness were cleared 30 minutes prior to tip-off, including Strus, Martin, Herro, Cain, Jovic and Vincent.
– Still sidelined while working through knee pain is guard Victor Oladipo, who again is traveling with the team.
– Smith played as the Heat’s first reserve, another sign that Vincent’s left knee still isn’t right.
– Highsmith played as the Heat’s second reserve, a sign that Jovic’s foot problem is an issue.
– Dedmon followed next, followed by Cain.
– Adebayo’s first assist was the 1,250th of his career.
– Adebayo’s fifth basket moved him past Hassan Whiteside for fifth on the Heat all-time list.
– Down on the farm, Heat camp prospect Jamaree Bouyea continues to thrive with the team’s G League affiliate, closing Saturday’s game for the Sioux Fal;ls Skyforce with 27 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds.
– Bouyea is free to be signed by an NBA team.