MIAMI – Already without starting center Hassan Whiteside, the Heat now will be without his replacement, Bam Adebayo, for tonight’s game against Cleveland.
The 6-foot-10 Adebayo sprained his right ankle during Sunday’s loss at Indiana and will join the 7-foot Whiteside on the bench. Whiteside will miss his ninth straight game because of a left hip flexor.
Jordan Mickey, who has played in five games since Jan. 3, will make his third start of the season. The 6-8 Mickey is averaging 3.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 21 games.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Adebayo “really wanted to push through and play” against the Cavs but that Adebayo was not moving well enough.
“He’s walking without a limp so from that standpoint it’s good,” Spoelstra said. “But the swelling is there and he definitely cannot play in an NBA game tonight and certainly not at the speed and intensity this game is going to require.”
Without Adebayo, the Heat will be down to 7-foot Kelly Olynyk as the lone legitimate center from the rotation. The Heat also have James Johnson, Jordan Mickey and Udonis Haslem, all 6-8, who have spent time at center, although Haslem and Mickey have played in a combined 32 games this season. Olynyk is averaging 27.9 minutes and 15.2 points since Whiteside was injured but Spoelstra would not say if he would start.
The Cavaliers have been starting 6-10 Kevin Love at center.
Adebayo said he was injured in the third quarter Sunday when he landed on the foot of Victor Oladipo after blocking his shot. Adebayo finished the game with 14 points and five rebounds, his best scoring game since Whiteside went down.
Adebayo is hoping to be back for Thursday’s game against the Bulls.
“It’s day-to-day,” Adebayo said. “I’m not the type of person to sit out long. I feel like my body heals faster than most people so I feel like I’m going to come back sooner than expected.”
Adebayo said he’s getting treatment like “breakfast, lunch and dinner and just keep trying to build up my ankle strength and mobility.”
On the season Adebayo is averaging 7.0 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 52.4 percent. In his last eight games as a starter he is averaging 6.8 points and 7.9 rebounds and his shooting had dipped to 37.3 percent.
Spoelstra said Whiteside is progressing but gave no further report on his condition. Whiteside was injured during shootaround on March 10.