Miami Heat stars Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic are both listed as doubtful for Friday’s Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, a development that could lead to a quick close to the bubble.
During the third quarter of Miami’s blowout loss in Game 1, Adebayo appeared to re-aggravate a shoulder strain he suffered in the Eastern Conference finals. The All-Star center did not return. According to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, Adebayo left the arena on Wednesday intent on playing in Game 2.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters on Thursday that an MRI revealed a neck strain on the same left side he suffered the shoulder strain against the Boston Celtics. His absence would create a mammoth hole in the middle, where Lakers star Anthony Davis dominated Miami in Game 1, even with Adebayo.
Dragic reportedly suffered a plantar tear in the second quarter of Game 1. He also did not return, and his diagnosis was far graver. While Miami did not rule him out for the remainder of the series, the injury customarily requires at least several weeks of recovery. Even if Dragic attempts to play through the injury, the toll it could take on the 34-year-old point guard’s ability to apply pressure on the Lakers is considerable.
The pick-and-roll partnership between Dragic and Adebayo helped swing the Eastern Conference finals, as it did in the first six minutes of Game 1 of the Finals, when the Heat took a 25-12 lead against the Lakers. Adebayo has scored 1.38 points per possession as a roll man in the playoffs, per Second Spectrum, and the loss of that weapon would be just as devastating as the defensive hole created by Adebayo’s absence.
The Heat started Tyler Herro in Dragic’s place to start the second half and inserted fellow rookie Kendrick Nunn into the rotation as a backup. Adebayo’s injury thrust floor-spacing center Kelly Olynyk into action with the outcome of Game 1 already solidified. Miami also started Meyers Leonard at center alongside Adebayo for much of the season, but the switch to smaller lineup ignited their success inside the bubble.
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