LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Bam Adebayo might be on his way back to the NBA Finals.
Adebayo, Miami’s All-Star centre who missed Games 2 and 3 of the title series against the Los Angeles Lakers with a neck strain, is now listed as questionable for Game 4 on Tuesday night. The Heat made that determination Monday, while continuing to list fellow starter Goran Dragic as doubtful with a torn left plantar fascia.
“I’m trying to get back as quickly as possible,” Adebayo said Monday before the Heat upgraded his status. “They’re just trying to make sure I’m safe and I’m ready to play. It’s really day-to-day. When they say I’m ready to play, I’ll be out there.”
Adebayo has also been dealing with a shoulder injury that flared during the Eastern Conference finals against Boston. The neck strain is more concerning to the Heat.
“I don’t miss games. That’s not me,” Adebayo said. “That’s not how I’m built. I want to play. I’ve always been like that. I’ve always got the thrill of just putting on that uniform and going out there and playing. To be in the finals and the medical staff is telling me I can’t play ... it sucks. But I understand.”
Meyers Leonard has started at centre in each of the last two games, and Kelly Olynyk — another 7-footer — has scored 41 points off the bench in those two contests.
Dragic left in the second quarter of Game 1. It’s unclear if he’ll be able to return in this series, and the anguish in his voice was easy to detect Monday — amid clear inference that his first NBA Finals might have been over by halftime of his first game on this stage.
“I mean, it’s not the easiest thing right now for me to sit down on the sideline and watch my team, how they are battling, how they are playing well, and of course I want to be out there,” Dragic said. “Most of the time I ask myself, I ask the guy above why it has to happen right now. It’s tough. It’s tough. You know, try to look at it this way: everything is with a purpose, so we’ll see.”
LeBron James and Jimmy Butler exchanged words in Game 3. Heat rookie Tyler Herro snarled for the camera, without really knowing what he was doing.
Game 3 had some meme-worthy moments.
“The snarl? I kind of just did it,” Herro said. “I’ve never really made that face before, like ever in my entire life. Kind of just happened in the midst of things, in the moment.”
James and Butler didn’t let the verbal jousts get out of hand; it apparently never escalated past claims of “you’re in trouble” going from one side to the other.
“For me personally, as long as it doesn’t get disrespectful, I’m fine with it,” James said. “But I’ve never really started up a trash-talking dialogue. That’s just not me. I believe the way I play the game is enough trash talking in itself.”
Lakers guard Danny Green is playing through some hip tightness, and when asked about it Monday he got around to explaining what it's like.
First, though, he made sure to use his platform — again.
Green has been diligent about continuing to say the names of Black victims of violence during every media session in the bubble, Monday's no exception.
“I’m feeling fine," Green said. “Outside of that, I think first and foremost I want bring to light the bigger picture, why we’re using our platforms for families that still deserve justice: Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake, George Floyd, so much is going on, so many other names, things that’s going on in communities.
“We need to get people out to vote. I urge you to. Can’t emphasize it enough. That’s what’s more important," Green said.
Jimmy Butler’s 40-point triple-double in Game 3 of the NBA Finals was the first such game in Heat history — regular-season or post-season .
LeBron James had a pair of 32-point triple-doubles for the Heat, one of those coming in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. Until Sunday, those had been the highest-scoring triple-doubles in team history.
There are seven franchises without a 40-point triple-double in their NBA history: Charlotte, the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis, Minnesota, Portland, Toronto and Indiana — though the Pacers had them in their ABA era.
Sacramento forward Harrison Barnes, Boston forward Jaylen Brown, Milwaukee guard George Hill, Oklahoma City guard Chris Paul and Dallas forward- centre Dwight Powell were announced Monday as the end-of-season NBA Cares Community Assist Award winners.
Their work, the NBA said, was exemplary in the quests to advance social justice missions and provide COVID-19 relief and support.
Each winning player received $10,000 for their charity of choice, from the NBA and Kaiser Permanente.
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Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press