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To Bam Adebayo, Heat Game Days Are Always Mother's Day

Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler, bottom left, and Jae Crowder (99) look on as Bam Adebayo (13) blocks a shot attempt by Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum (0) in the closing seconds of overtime of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler, bottom left, and Jae Crowder (99) look on as Bam Adebayo (13) blocks a shot attempt by Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum (0) in the closing seconds of overtime of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Miami center Bam Adebayo went into the locker room at halftime of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals knowing that he wasnt doing enough.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.: Miami center Bam Adebayo went into the locker room at halftime of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals knowing that he wasnt doing enough.

He didnt need to see video. Or talk to Heat teammates. Or check the stats.

He only needed to think of his mother.

That first half wasnt me and I had to reboot myself, man, Adebayo said. So, you ask yourself: Where do you come from and whats your why? Whats your why? And for me, thats my mom.

Marilyn Blount, this was for you. Adebayo nearly outscored the Boston Celtics by himself in the third quarter, the Heat turned the game around and went on to win 106-101 Thursday night to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals putting the kid who grew up in a single-wide trailer with a mom making something like $15,000 a year two wins away from the NBA Finals.

Adebayo had four points at the half, and the Heat were down by 13. He had 17 in the second half, when Miami outscored Boston by 18.

Games are long and you just have to figure out different ways to impact winning, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. And Bam, he understands that.

It wasnt just Adebayo in the second half, which is the brilliance of this Heat team its never just one guy. Adebayo had 17 points after halftime on 8-for-10 shooting, Goran Dragic had 16 points in the final two quarters, Tyler Herro had more rebounds than anyone after halftime and Jimmy Butler made three steals in the final 3:40 to help Miami finish off matters.

Im happy to be on this team with these guys because everybody here has a different story, Adebayo said. We all come from nothing and thats whats beautiful about this team.

He may have come from nothing. Right now, for a Miami team that is 10-1 so far in this postseason to match the best start in franchise playoff history, hes doing everything.

He had the game-saving block of a Jayson Tatum dunk attempt in the final seconds of Game 1 of the East finals, made the NBAs All-Defensive team, became an All-Star for the first time and won the skills competition at All-Star weekend.

Hes averaging 16.8 points, 11 rebounds and 5.1 assists so far in the playoffs; the only two players who have done that, at his age of 22 or less, in a full postseason are Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley.

He knows what makes him tick, what makes him go, Butler said. He knows why hes playing the game. Spo always says, Whats your why? He gets it. He understands. He knows that we need him to play at an extremely high level to be successful. Hes an All-Star, All-Defensive Player. Hes everything for us.

Adebayo could agree this offseason, whenever free agency starts, to a contract that will set him up for life, set his mother up for whatever she wants as well. Hes already looking at houses for her; these days, shes got an apartment in the same building where her son lives, just down the street from the arena that the Heat call home.

He doesnt hide from the past. He doesnt forget having nothing. It doesnt embarrass him. It inspires him.

That competitive nature comes out when I feel like Im playing bad and when things arent going right, Adebayo said. I think about how she fought through struggle. I feel like she was in the gym tonight. It was like I could hear her in my ear. I watched her get knocked down and get back up so many times. You see that for 18 years straight, you take that load on and feel that responsibility. And my responsibility is to provide for my mom, and the best way to make sure I can do that is to help us win.

Theyre winning. Theyre the surprise of the bubble, in the sense that theyre the lowest seed Miami was No. 5 in the East still standing.

Two more wins, and theyll be going to the NBA Finals. Adebayo knows theyll be the hardest wins to get.

It sounds crazy, Adebayo said. Think about the beginning of the year, when we were telling everybody, We have a chance, we have a chance. I remember having a conversation with a couple guys, playing out how the season was going to go before it started, and they said we were a No. 7, No. 8 seed and would get knocked out in the first round.

I took that kind of personal, he added. Youre not going to sit here and just bash my team like that. Weve proven to people now that we belong in the playoffs, that were taking this head on. Were underdogs. Thats our mentality.

Hes been one his whole life.

It seems to work for him thanks to his mom.

Watching her, I built my competitive nature,” Adebayo said. That’s how I learned that the strong survive.”

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