Just a matter of months after being handed the keys to the offense, Bam Adebayo has paved a way to how people imagine the archetype and characteristics of a modern-day big-man.
Having the ability to make shots inside and mid-range, guard all positions from 1-through-5 and facilitate like a point guard, Adebayo’s positionless style of play has been efficient and consistent, a huge benefit to his early career.
“He created a position. He’s a point-center,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari told the NY Times about his former player. “Tell me the last one, and I mean truly a point-center. Not a big guy who can pass. He can bounce it and get by you. He can make bang-bang plays like a point guard. He can do Euro steps. And he’s still going to rebound and block shots.”
Translate to the present day, and Adebayo finds himself as the heart and sole of the Miami Heat’s historic postseason run, one that’ll put his club in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014.
Adebayo was the X-factor in Miami’s Game 6 victory over the Boston Celtics Sunday, posting a career-high 32 points on 11 of 15 shooting, 14 rebounds and 5 assists. The first-time All-Star was crucial in sparking the Heat’s 28-8 fourth quarter run that ultimately made them Eastern Conference champions.
The best part about Adebayo wasn’t his heroics, however, it was his willingness to accept responsibility and use it as motivation to urge the winning passion that Heat culture is all about.
For Adebayo, he bounced back from a Game 5 loss that saw him shoot 5 of 11 for 13 points. After the contest, he took the blame for the loss, promising to step up to finish things off.
“I played terrible. Everyone’s not gonna make me put it on myself, but I’ll put it on myself to be better for my teammates and to go out, execute and do what I had to do,” he said Sunday. “And I did that.”
According to Rob Perez, Adebayo grabbed 54.3 percent of Miami’s rebounds and either scored or assisted 51.3 percent of the points during the final period of the Heat’s closeout game.
Adebayo became the fourth player in Heat history to record 30 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in a playoff game, joining the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal, per ESPN Stats & Info.
The three-year pro finished the best-of-seven series averaging 21.8 points, 11.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 1 block per game, which are team-highs in all of those categories.
Now, Adebayo will have the chance to face-off against James and the Los Angeles Lakers, the first time both teams ever meet in the Finals.
For the Heat, they’ll open as underdogs, a repetitive chain they’ve encountered throughout the regular season and postseason run.
It doesn’t phase them at this point.
“It feels great to be the underdog and come out on top,” Adebayo said.