Winderman’s view: It could have been Adebayo’s night; instead, a Heat loss
NEW YORK — Observations and other notes of interest from Tuesday night’s 111-105 NBA playoff loss to the New York Knicks:
– It could have been a Bam Adebayo game for the Heat.
– And perhaps, in his own way, it was.
– The issue with Adebayo, at least with this roster, hasn’t been about such an immediate ascension.
– The leading man is in place, even if absent Tuesday night.
– So even with Jimmy Butler out, coach Erik Spoelstra stressed perspective, at least when it came to Tuesday’s expectations.
– “They don’t change dramatically,” Spoelstra said of Adebayo. “He doesn’t need to score 50 for us to win this game. But he has to have his fingerprints all over this competition and the way he does it is very similar to the way that Jimmy does it.”
– Spoelstra added, “He has to do it on both ends with massive challenges for him to be able to defend everybody, anybody and all the schemes. Then offensively, all the scoring, the facilitating, all of that. But that’s what he wants.”
– The debate remains whether Adebayo is a strong enough No. 2 alongside Butler, at least at the level of playoff competition.
– A debate that could resume with a Butler return in Saturday’s Game 3 at Kaseya Center.
– In this one, Adebayo showed versatility.
– Which matters.
– Spoelstra needed Adebayo to be his best self.
– With this arguably who he is.
– But more was needed.
– It could have been his moment
– It wasn’t.
– With Butler out with the ankle sprain sustained late in Sunday’s Game 1 victory, the Heat went with Caleb Martin as a starter.
– That was with Max Strus already starting in place of sidelined Tyler Herro.
– The three other Heat starters were Adebayo, Kevin Love and Gabe Vincent.
– That had the Heat opening with three undrafted players, in Martin, Strus and Vincent.
– The Knicks had Julius Randle back after he missed Game 1 with an ankle sprain.
– New York’s other starters were Mitchell Robinson, R.J. Barrett, Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson, who had been listed as questionable due to an ankle sprain of his own.
– The Knicks then had to sub in backup center Isaiah Hartdenstein with 9:29 left in the opening period, when Robinson was called for his second foul, both drawn by Adebayo.
– Kyle Lowry and Haywood Highsmith entered together in the Heat’s first substitution.
– Highsmith had been on the Heat injury report with knee tendinitis.
– Cody Zeller then followed along with Duncan Robinson.
– Butler finished 10th in the MVP voting released pregame, with the award going to 76ers and former Butler teammate Joel Embiid, with three fifth-place votes.
– Spoelstra said part of playoff preparation is keeping it simple.
– “We don’t want to overload everybody too much,” he said, “where we’re not able to complete,”
– So a lot of 3-point attempts and zone defense mixed in.
– Sort of as simple as it gets.
– Spoelstra said it is a time of year where perfection is somewhat of an abstract, particularly true with his roster situation Tuesday.
– “At the end of the day,” he said, “you still have to figure out how to win the game, even if you’re not playing an ‘A’ game.”
– And even this time of year, Spoelstra said, it still can be a make-or-miss league.
– “So much of this league you feel great about it when teams miss,” he said. “It could look different when they make it.”
– He added, “You can get teams to blink if you make shots, either way.”
– Vincent said getting a read on the officiating whistle is critical in the playoffs.
– “Obviously, as athletes, we’ll adjust to however they officiate the game, whether it’s tighter or looser,” he said. “Typically in playoff basketball you get to be more physical. You just kind of wait and find out. I can’t read their mind.”
– Adebayo’s second free throw moved him past Udonis Haslem for seventh on the Heat’s all-time playoff list.
– Adebayo’s third basket moved him past Mario Chalmers for eighth on the Heat’s all-time playoff list.
– Lowry’s fourth rebound was the 500th of his playoff career.
– Lowry’s first steal was the 150th of his playoff career.
– Robinson’s first defensive rebound was the 100th of his playoff career.
– Joe Torre, Hank Azaria, Bernard King, Aaron Rodgers, Dave Chappelle, Jessica Alba, Roger Federer and Carmelo Anthony were among the faces in the crowd.
– The last time the Knicks had made the second round was with Anthony in 2013, when they lost in that round to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Heat.