Without a doubt, the Milwaukee Bucks have been the NBA’s best team this year. They’re 52-9, clinched a playoff berth earlier than any other team in NBA history, and average a league-best 119.1 points per game.
But on Monday night, the Miami Heat were the decidedly better team in defeating Milwaukee 105-89.
The 89 points were the Bucks’ fewest in a game this season, reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a season-low 13 points, and the Heat became the only team to beat Milwaukee twice this season (they’ll meet a third time on March 16).
Miami held Milwaukee to just 89 points – their lowest scoring game this season. pic.twitter.com/CYxVys6OpJ
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 3, 2020
“We’re always the underdog,” Heat All-Star forward Bam Adebayo said after the game. “I feel like we can play with anybody. And my teammates believe that, the coaching staff believes that and this city believed it. So we can play with anybody and this is one knock off and we just gotta keep going from here.”
Adebayo’s defense was key in stopping Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. According to ESPN, Antetokounmpo was 1-of-10 with Adebayo as his primary defender, including 0-of-7 on contested shots, and he scored zero points in transition, just the second time this season he was held scoreless in transition.
“When you get in this profession, you want the coaches to put more on your plate,” said Adebayo, who finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds. “That’s been my challenge. Go out there and guard the best player and get it done on both ends. It’s been working out pretty good for me. Just got to keep that thing going.”
It’s been a breakout year for Adebayo, who earned his first All-Star berth (and won the Skills Challenge) on the strength of career-highs in points, rebounds, minutes and nearly every other statistical category. He’s averaging 16.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.3 blocks and 34.4 minutes a game. The 14th overall pick to the Heat in 2017 out of Kentucky, Adebayo has started all 61 games he’s played this year, after earning just 47 starts his first two NBA seasons combined.
This season Bam Adebayo is averaging:
He's on pace to become only the 6th player in the NBA three-point era (since 1980) with a 15/10/5/1/1 season.
The other 5 players: Giannis, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Garnett, Chris Webber, Larry Bird. pic.twitter.com/uQszXdeHb2
— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 3, 2020
Maybe the only person enjoying this success more than Adebayo is his mother, Marilyn Blount. She raised Bam by herself in a single-wide trailer home and earned about $12,000 per year as a cashier at a meat farm. She became Bam’s motivation.
“When I was younger, it’s like, ‘Mom works. Normal adult stuff,'” Adebayo told ESPN. “But you mature and start to look at it differently. I watched my mom struggle. She comes home tired. She doesn’t want to do anything. As I got older, I started thinking, ‘My mom doesn’t deserve this.’ My whole devotion became to get my mom out of that trailer.”
Adebayo now lives on the 48th floor of a downtown Miami condominium building, and Blount lives on the fifth floor. She attributes her son’s success to God. “God gave Bam this talent,” she told ESPN.
Adebayo, meanwhile, uses social media to share about his faith. He quotes 1 Timothy 4:12 on Twitter: “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” And Proverbs 14:23 on Instagram: “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
The journey to this point for Adebayo, 22, has put him in position and given him a desire to help others. “That’s my whole point — just helping people just try to succeed in life,” he told CloseUp360.
Thanks to Adebayo and the big wins over the Bucks, Miami sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference at 39-22. The team hosts Orlando on Wednesday.
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