Can the Heat’s defense survive without Adebayo?

Midway through Wednesday, the Heat announced that Bam Adebayo suffered a torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his right thumb. As per the release, it was an injury the big man suffered in Monday’s game against the Denver Nuggets. 

Reports suggested that the timetable for the Heat’s All-Star is somewhere between four and six weeks, which is sure to be a trying period for the Miami franchise who are expected to be among the contenders in the Eastern Conference. 

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The team’s schedule without Adebayo began on Wednesday itself and it didn’t go down well as the Heat hosted the Cavaliers. 

Cleveland, missing their fair share of starters, dominated the contest at FTX Arena as Miami suited up without both their All-Stars as Jimmy Butler also sat out this one with a tail bone injury.

The Cavaliers, which had six players scoring in double figures, won by a blowout margin of 26 points (111-85). The visitors shot 54.4 percent from the field, 51.6 percent from beyond the arc and 91.3 percent from the free-throw line. while recording an astounding 14 blocks. 

“Guys will have to step up. Not just bigs, but guards have to rebound,” Tyler Herro said postgame after the Heat were outrebounded 46-28. 

“They got a bunch of guys who can swallow you up when you get to bad areas on the floor. I gotta be better in that regard, will be next game. Gotta bounce back.”

Prior to this game, the Heat had a defensive rating of 103.1 with Adebayo on the court. That’s not only the best in the team among players to average at least 20 minutes per game but that number would have also ranked second-best in the league. 

The win, Cleveland’s third straight, has plenty of significance. It’s the franchise first in Miami in nearly 12 years. This was the team’s first win against the Heat in South Beach since Jan. 2010. 

Here’s a look at the starters during the last victory:

Since 2010, the Cavaliers went 0-20 against the Heat in Miami including the four years from 2014 to 2018 that they made it to the NBA Finals after LeBron James had returned home. 

On the flip side, when Adebayo sits, the Heat’s defensive rating slumps to 107.2 which would rank 14th in the league. It’s also a number that’s a team-best among players averaging at least 20 minutes per game. 

This game is only the fourth time, through 22 games, that the Miami franchise have allowed more than 110 points.

Defence has seemed like the calling card for this Heat roster, so can they survive with their big man, who was not only making a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year but also plays a huge role in the league’s sixth-best offence.

Time will tell how this Miami squad rallies through this adversity. 

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