Following a game in which he started slow, and finished strong, Bam Adebayo was asked Monday night if his hand he kept flexing during the game was OK.
“It’s fine,” Adebayo said, flexing it again, seemingly without pain. “It’s fine.”
It’s not fine.
The Miami Heat revealed Wednesday that Adebayo will have surgery to repair a torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his right thumb.
INJURY UPDATE: Bam Adebayo suffered a torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his right thumb during Monday's game vs Denver and will undergo surgery this weekend.
A timetable on his return will be provided post-surgery.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 1, 2021
While the Heat did not provide a timetable, several sources told Five Reasons Sports Network on Wednesday afternoon that the “4 to 6 week” timetable that ESPN reported is conservative, and a best-case scenario.
Adebayo’s absence is likely to be close to double that.
That would put his return at late February or early March, not only significantly stressing the Heat’s front court rotation and starting lineup, but also taking him out of play to participate in his second All-Star game. It also derails his Defensive Player of the Year chances.
The Heat’s interior troubles are compounded by the extended absence of veteran forward/center Markieff Morris, who will miss his 12th straight game Wednesday with what the team has termed as “whiplash,” the result of a blindside hit from Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.
That leaves Dewayne Dedmon as the likely starter next to forward PJ Tucker, with rookie Omer Yurtseven finding his way into the reserve rotation. It also could mean minutes for captain Udonis Haslem and former second-round pick KZ Okpala against smaller lineups.
— Five Reasons Sports (@5ReasonsSports) December 1, 2021
While Adebayo had frustrated some fans with offensive inconsistency, his importance to the Heat is undeniable, as one of the league’s most dynamic, switchable defenders; a secondary ballhandler and playmaker; and a core rebounder, even if his numbers in that area had declined of late, which appeared related to some soreness in his knee. Dedmon can replicate the rebounding, and has been solid in his bench minutes as he was in his first half-season with the Heat, but he is not as versatile as Adebayo. This likely means fewer dribble-handoffs with Duncan Robinson, who is already struggling.
It also means more of an offensive burden on Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry — at least until Victor Oladipo returns from his quad surgery, which actually now could be before Adebayo is back.
Miami simply isn’t accustomed to playing without Adebayo, who has been remarkably durable since the team drafted him 14th overall out of Kentucky in 2017.
This comes at a time when the Heat, at 13-8, were pivoting to what should have been an easier stretch of the schedule, following 13 of the first 21 games on the road. The Cleveland Cavaliers, with their big frontline led by Jarrett Allen, visit tonight.
For more, follow the Five Reasons Sports YouTube channel.