Mateo’s Hoop Diary: Bam Adebayo Sets Career Milestone in Heat’s Win Over Hawks

The Miami Heat’s second road win of the season came 32 days after the group’s first dub away from home.

Undermanned and undersized, the Heat rolled into State Farm Arena struggling early and found themselves down nine points at the intermission. Although, there were a few bright spots.

Atlanta was lighting it up from deep, making 5/10 triples in the opening period and holding Miami to 39.1% shooting from the field. Max Strus and Bam Adebayo were the only productive offensive players in this stretch for the Heat. They were a combined 7/12 from the field, while the rest of the outfit shot 2/11 from the floor.

It wasn’t like Atlanta was doing anything special contesting on kick outs to the perimeter. Miami missed four makeable 3-point shots that weren’t challenged in the first quarter, deepening their hole.

The Hawks’ defensive game plan was to limit the Heat’s action in the interior. It worked for the first quarter by only giving up eight points in the paint and sending their guests to the line just once through the first 12 minutes.

Slowly but surely, Miami adjusted on both sides. In the second quarter, they nearly doubled their paint production to 14 points and held the hosts to 28.6% efficiency from deep by disrupting the offense with the 2-3 zone.

On one play, Dejounte Murray caught a pass in the right corner, and Kyle Lowry instantly closed out. Kyle trapped his matchup and pressured him into throwing a reckless lob toward the elbow that Haywood Highsmith intercepted.

When the Heat doubled Trae Young on the right wing, he passed to an opening on the left side of the arc. Tyler Herro, one of the backline defenders covering the paint and corner, sprinted forward for the contest, influencing the miss.

On a pick-and-roll play with Murray and Frank Kaminsky, Miami iced the ball handler as he wrapped around the screen. This left Hawks rookie AJ Griffin open on the left wing. Herro, again, came in flying in from the middle like an F16 fighter jet and forced the miss.

Miami came out of the recess in a hole, but it quickly dug itself out and pushed Atlanta in. Bam Adebayo had 14 points in the third quarter, matching his output for the first half. He ruthlessly attacked the basket, making all five interior shots in the period, plus four free throws.

Three of his finishes were set up as a result of PNR. Herro designed the first two and Lowry the third. His fourth basket came after he was fed in the dunker spot. Lowry’s drive in transition attracted the help of Adebayo’s matchup, John Collins, leaving Miami’s big man open. Bam caught the pass, took one dribble and faded in the lane for two.

Against Atlanta’s feeble zone, Lowry passed to Adebayo in the center as he was guarded by Griffin. Bam posted up, dribbled once, and turned for a seven-foot hook shot that pecked the front of the iron before dropping in.

Adebayo finished the game with 32 points on 13/20 attempts with eight rebounds, one assist and one rejection. It became the first time in his career that he broke 30 points in consecutive games, per Basketball Reference.

In the previous outing, Miami’s win at home over Washington on Friday, ”No Ceiling,” powered the Heat to a dub with 38 points and 12 rebounds.

This version of Adebayo, the two-way wrecking ball averaging better than 25 points and 10 rebounds over the last six games, looks like a top-three big man. He doesn’t play outside of himself. Against the Hawks, he took two tries outside of the lane and missed both, yet in the paint, he shot 72.2%, and that’s where 26 of his points came from.

Bam has ascended to a level that impacts the game as much as his All-Star teammate, Butler. Holding this together forever is the next step to finally unleashing #13.


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