PHILADELPHIA – Bam Adebayo’s first playoff experience brought him back to his one year at Kentucky.
The Heat’s 6-foot-10 rookie said the atmosphere during Game 1 of the opening round series against Philadelphia reminded him of college, especially the Wildcats’ Elite Eight game against North Carolina, which they lost 75-73.
“It’s an indescribable moment,” Adebayo, 20, said today after the Heat’s shootaround to prepare for tonight’s Game 2 at Wells Fargo Center. The Heat trail the series 0-1 after being pounding in the second half of a 130-103 loss in Game 1.
“This is my first time but I’m grateful to get out there. It was fun to be out there being with my teammates in the first one. We’re looking to make a push.”
Adebayo played 21 minutes in his playoff debut, scoring six points and grabbing one rebound. Coach Erik Spoelstra used Adebayo in his center rotation with Kelly Olynyk as starting center Hassan Whiteside logged just 12 minutes.
“He’s playing and he’s contributing,” Spoelstra said. “He doesn’t get sick at sea. It’s not the same in college, but he’s been in some big-time situations before. It’s how you manage emotions and focus on only the task at hand and he does that very well.”
At one point during the game Dwyane Wade pulled Adebayo aside for a conversation. Part of that talk was about setting screens.
Wade compared Adebayo’s poise to that of Sixers rookie point guard Ben Simmons.
“He’s a good basketball player, he played good basketball (in Game 1) like he’s done all year,” Wade said. “He hasn’t played like a rookie (this season). Some guys are just special like that. He plays like Ben Simmons plays. Obviously if you can do this on this playoff level it’s even more heightened, even more impressive if you constantly continue to do it.”
Said Adebayo: “It’s a veteran teaching a rook so you take that under my belt. We’re moving forward. I’m in the second unit with him so he’s just trying to get on the same page.”
Adebayo played in 69 games this season, starting 19. He averaged 6.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 19.8 minutes. He benefitted from Whiteside missing 28 games because of various injuries.