Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Miami Heat All-Star Bam Adebayo is planning to return for Game 4 vs. the Lakers tonight, sources tell ESPN. Lakers lead series, 2-1.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 6, 2020
Adebayo planned to play Game 3, and that didn’t happen. But the Heat listed him as doubtful for that game. He’s listed as questionable for Game 4 – which indicates a significantly different situation.
At this point, I’d be shocked if Adebayo doesn’t play tonight.
The bigger question: How much will he help?
Though lesser players than Adebayo overall, Meyers Leonard and Kelly Olynyk are better 3-point shooters. That proved highly effective against the big Lakers in Game 3. Leonard and Olynyk dragging a Los Angeles center to the perimeter gave Jimmy Butler room to attack the basket.
Expect the Lakers to defend Butler more aggressively in Game 4. So, it’s not as if Miami could simply repeat its Game 3 strategy. But Adebayo – better on elbow passing and finishing at the rim – also requires the Heat to adjust.
Ideally for Miami, the upside will come defensively. Adebayo should especially help on the defensive glass.
But the Heat’s Game 3 success against Anthony Davis and LeBron James came with collectively walling off the paint. A single individual defender – even one as good Adebayo – is less important with that team-wide tactic.
Again, though, expect the Lakers to adjust after seeing that paint-protection look. Adebayo is definitely the Miami player best-equipped to defend Davis individually.
Undoubtedly, the Heat will take all the complications that come with Adebayo’s return. But this isn’t a straight case of Miami improving by the amount of Adebayo’s ability. There are tradeoffs with deploying him in this series.
As for the other injured Heat starter, Goran Dragic will likely miss the rest of the series. Miami will continue to rely on Butler, Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn playing expanded roles in the backcourt.