Bam Adebayo played nearly 41 minutes in Game 1 of the Heat’s opening-round series against the Bucks. He took 15 shots, 14 of which came inside the paint. For all that, Miami got a grand total of nine points.
Of the many reasons the Heat could not pull off the Game 1 upset against Milwaukee on Saturday afternoon, Adebayo’s lack of production—and woeful 4-for-15 shooting from the field—comes in at the top. After all, Adebayo averaged 18.7 points this season and in last year’s playoffs against Milwaukee, Adebayo averaged 17.2 points in five games.
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But in Game 1, the size of Bucks center Brook Lopez seemed to give Adebayo trouble. And the Heat’s resident wise man, 35-year-old Goran Dragic, called Adebayo out for it.
“I feel like he needs to be more aggressive,” said Dragic. “I’m not saying to take that midrange shot. But, you know, he got that ability to put the ball on the floor and be more physical and try to challenge them at the rim. I know Lopez is big, but I think Bam has that quality, he can do it many ways, he can score may ways against him. So, we’re gonna have to watch the film and see how we’re going to attack them in the next game. Hopefully, we’re gonna make some changes.”
Adebayo’s Shooting was Out of the Ordinary for Him
The problem was not so much the number of shots Adebayo took. It was the quality. Even when he was shooting from inside the paint, he was not getting to the rim and forcing his way into close-range looks. He took four shots at the rim, and only made one.
For context, consider that according to Basketball-Reference.com, Adebayo usually takes 35.3% of his shots at the rim. He usually makes 79.4% of those shots.
On Saturday, though, he took only 26.7% of his shots at the rim and made 25.0% of them. That, of course, is bad. Making matters worse was the fact that Adebayo went to the free-throw line only one time—only five times in 64 games this season did Adebayo fail to shoot at least two free-throws.
Bucks Defense Allowed Heat to Shoot 3-Pointers
Generally, it appeared that the Bucks were reverting to their old style of defense, which calls for packing the paint and taking inside shots away from guys like Adebayo.
As a result, the Heat launched 50 3-pointers in the game, which would be tied for the second-most the team took this season. They made 20 of them, which is good, but for a team that averaged 36.2 3-pointers per game this season, taking so many 3s clearly took Miami out of their offense.
Heat star Jimmy Butler, who hoisted an absurd nine 3-point attempts (he made two), scored 17 points on the day but shot only 4-for-22 overall.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra tried to put a good spin on the outing, looking forward to Game 2.
“Their defense is very good at protecting the paint. But I think they (Adebayo and Butler) both missed some good clean opportunities,” Spoelstra said. “But I think the most important thing about it is that it shows their level of competitive spirit, that you still can put yourself in a position to win regardless of whether it’s an easy night for you offensively, whether the ball is dropping and it feels like it’s the size of the ocean or you have to grind and give yourself an opportunity to win in the mud. We had some opportunities in the mud. But they made some more plays and more shots down the stretch.”