The Miami Heat are searching for answers defensively with Bam Adebayo sidelined after he underwent surgery on his injured thumb.
Adebayo suffered a torn Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his right thumb against the Denver Nuggets last week and the big man is expected to miss 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.
Following a 124-102 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, who were without Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Heat are now 1-2 without their All-Star big man in the lineup. Jimmy Butler is also sidleined as he manages a tailbone injury.
Missing their rim protector, the Heat didn’t have any answers inside as the Bucks outscored them by 22 points in the paint (48-26) with Dewayne Dedmon and Ömer Yurtseven splitting minutes at the five. The Bucks dominated the glass on the night, outrebounding the Heat 57-39.
“We did not defend to our best capability when the ball wasn’t going in,” Heat head coach Erik Spolestra said postgame.
“When we’re at our best defensively, regardless of what the scheme is, we always give ourselves a chance.”
With their defense struggling, Miami needed to put points on the board, but got off to a slow start, held scoreless for the first four minutes of the game and they quickly found themseleves down by double digits late in the opening quarter.
Thanasis took over the role of Giannis throwing it down on the baseline.
Prior to Adebayo’s injury, 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.
On the flip side, when Adebayo sits, the Heat’s defensive rating slumps to 107.9 which would rank 15th 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 sixth time, through 24 games, that the Miami franchise have allowed more than 110 points and just the second time this season they’e given up more than 120 points, with tonight the most points they’ve allowed all season.
Defense has been 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 offense (110.9 ORTG).
Time will tell how this Miami squad rallies through this adversity.