Ailing Heat riding Bam Adebayo into meeting with Pacers

Questions ArchiveCategory: QuestionsAiling Heat riding Bam Adebayo into meeting with Pacers
Ana Lackey asked 1 month ago

The Miami Heat still do not know whether star forward Jimmy Butler will be available Thursday when they play host to the Indiana Pacers.

Miami, which has lost three straight games, will also host Indiana on Saturday.

Butler has an ankle injury, which has caused him to miss each of the past two games. He ranks third on the team in scoring with 20.7 points per game.

In addition to Butler, the Heat have other injury concerns. Second-leading scorer Tyler Herro (22.9) has missed 10 straight games due to an ankle injury. Haywood Highsmith, a defensive-minded forward who has made 12 starts this season, missed Miami’s loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday due to a back injury.

That 131-124 defeat Heat victory against the Bucks eliminated Miami from the NBA’s in-season tournament.

“I felt like we played a good game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, “particularly on offense.”

The good news for Miami is that Bam Adebayo (left hip) and Duncan Robinson (right thumb) returned from their injuries on Tuesday.

Miami will need all the help it can get in order to slow down the Pacers. Indiana is No. 1 in the league in pace and just 29th in defensive rating.

The Pacers, who made the in-season tournament quarterfinals with a 4-0 record in pool play, have been off since a 114-110 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.

“It was a really poor performance,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said, “uninspired in many ways.”

Normally, the Pacers are an offensive machine with eight players averaging in double figures.

Indiana point guard Tyrese Haliburton, a first-time All-Star last season, leads the NBA in assists (11.9), ranks eighth in free-throw percentage (91.5) and 14th in scoring (25.9), heading into Wednesday’s games

Indiana’s starting lineup features one player with a strong Miami tie. Bruce Brown, a 6-foot-4 wing, played his college ball for the Miami Hurricanes. He is averaging 11.4 points, with a season-high 24 points opening night.

Brown, who won an NBA title last season with the Denver Nuggets, was brought in last summer as a free agent who specializes in defense with the hopes of improving an Indiana weakness.

The Pacers are also starting 6-11 center Myles Turner, 6-9 power forward Obi Toppin and 6-4 shooting guard Buddy Hield.

Center Myles Turner leads the Pacers in rebounds (7.6) and blocks (2.2) and ranks second in scoring (16.8). Forward Obi Toppin, a former Knicks first-round pick, is averaging 11.8 points, and he’s most dangerous in transition because of his ability to run the court. Shooting guard Hield is averaging 13.6 points in a steady decline from 2018-2019 with the Sacramento Kings when he averaged 20.7 points.

A matchup to watch on Thursday will be Turner against Adebayo, who leads Miami in scoring (23.3), rebounds (10.3) and blocks (1.1).

Adebayo, 26, is already a two-time All-Star and made the NBA’s All-Defense team four times. He won an Olympic gold medal with Team USA in 2020, and he was a key contributor when the Heat made the NBA Finals in 2020 and 2023.

– Field Level Media

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