Bam Adebayo headed out to the court a couple hours before Game 3 of the NBA Finals, getting some shots up in his typical pregame routine.
That would be the only basketball he played Sunday night.
The Heat remained depleted for Game 3 of the title series against the Los Angeles Lakers, with Adebayo out again with a neck injury and Goran Dragic still sidelined with a torn left plantar fascia. Both got hurt in Game 1 and haven't played since.
“I can see the anguish literally in the eyes, both of them," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And everybody in the locker room feels it. When you're in the elite percentile of being a competitor in this league, get to this stage and have unfortunate injuries ... I know in their soul, they both will do anything to get out there."
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They've lobbied to do just that. Dragic's injury is complex; it's extremely painful, especially for a guard who relies on his ability to cut sharply and change direction, and he fears he would hurt the team by even trying to play through the issue.
Adebayo has been bothered by a shoulder issue for a couple weeks, which he played through. Miami hasn't addressed the severity of the neck issue, but the fact that its best defender is being held out of multiple games of the NBA Finals because of that injury speaks volumes.
“They've put their heart and soul into this," Spoelstra said. “We're all feeling it. It's just the most responsible thing to do right now."
The Heat trail the series 2-0. Game 4 is Tuesday night. Spoelstra said both are improving, but offered no prediction as to either or both would return.
Dragic was Miami's second-leading scorer in the regular season behind Jimmy Butler, averaging 16.2 points off the bench. Adebayo averaged 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds in his first All-Star season.
In the playoffs, both raised their numbers: Dragic became the starting point guard and has averaged 19.9 points while Adebayo is averaging 17.8 points and 10.9 rebounds in the postseason.
“It’s just some bad luck of the draw for us right now on that end that the injury bug hit us right now,” Crowder said after shootaround Sunday morning, several hours prior to the decision to sit both Adebayo and Dragic in Game 3. “But we can’t feel sorry for ourselves."
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