Bam Adebayo insists he isn’t making statement against Celtics in ECF despite ‘disrespectful’ DPOY voting

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Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo is dismissing the idea that his play against the Boston Celtics is motivated by losing out on the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award to the Celtics’ Marcus Smart.

Adebayo has seemingly already moved past that.

“No, I want to win (a title),” Adebayo said in a recent interview with The Athletic. “I already forgot about the award. We’re trying to win a championship, trying to advance in this series. I’m not worried about any awards.”

Finishing fourth in the DPOY balloting following a strong season-long defensive effort, Adebayo described the snub as “disrespectful.” One day before his Game 3 performance, his defensive performance this season was again disrespected.

That particular snub came in the form of being placed on the NBA All-Defensive Second Team. That designation was no doubt galling to Adebayo, who was considered by many to be the Heat’s top defensive player during the 2021-22 regular season.

Adebayo had a bumpy performance in last Thursday’s Game 2, scoring just six points in the loss that evened the Heat’s series with the Celtics at one game apiece. That might have had more of an impact on Adebayo’s motivation, especially since Smart thrived in that contest.

Whatever was driving Adebayo on Saturday night is something that he and the Heat are hoping continues. That’s because he scored 31 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, collected four steals and blocked a shot in the Heat’s 109-103 victory.

Adebayo and the Heat can take a commanding position in the series against the Celtics if they can win again in Boston on Monday night. By emerging with a victory, they can head back to Miami holding a 3-1 advantage and needing just one more win to advance to the Finals.

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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.