The Miami Heat entered Sunday’s afternoon tilt with the Brooklyn Nets on a three-game losing streak, slipping to seventh in the East and into the dreaded play-in tournament. For a team with aspirations of a top-4 seed after last year’s Finals run, it’s been a season filled with inconsistencies due in large part to injuries and absences due to health and safety protocols.
Without Jimmy Butler, the Heat weren’t favored to beat the Nets, but after Kevin Durant left early in the first quarter with a thigh contusion and didn’t return, they quickly took control behind a tremendous performance from Bam Adebayo. Still, down the stretch they found themselves trailing after Landry Shamet caught fire and posted a career-high 30 point outing, and needed some late heroics from Adebayo to escape with a victory.
Tied at 107-107 after Kyrie Irving failed to hit a go-ahead bucket on the other end, the Heat gave Adebayo the ball against Jeff Green and had him isolate, dribbling the clock down inside five seconds before going to work, getting to his spot on the left block, and rising for his first ever game-winner at the buzzer.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 18, 2021
It’s a situation that Miami typically leans on Butler for, but it was good to see Adebayo step up into that role and deliver, rather than ceding that role to someone else on an afternoon where he was so terrific. Bam finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists, taking advantage of his size advantage against the smaller Nets all night — his backup, the recently signed Dewayne Dedmon did the same with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 15 minutes of play, as Miami’s interior presence was the difference in a much needed win.
The win pulled Miami back to a game over .500 and just 1.5 back of the Knicks for the 6-seed. They’ll look to piece together another winning streak to climb the standings and avoid the play-in, but for now they can celebrate a hard fought win and a signature moment for Adebayo.