Heat's Bam Adebayo Exits COVID-19 Protocols, Expected to Play in Game 1 vs. Hawks

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 16, 2022

Miami Heat's Bam Adebayo during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday, March 2, 2022, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
AP Photo/Morry Gash

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo is reportedly expected to be available to play in Game 1 of the team's first-round Eastern Conference playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

According to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, Adebayo exited health and safety protocols Saturday and rejoined the Heat.

The Heat announced on Sunday that Adebayo had been placed in protocols, which kept him out of the regular-season finale against the Orlando Magic.

While the 24-year-old missed significant time this season because of a torn UCL in his thumb, he played a huge role in the Heat securing the No. 1 seed in the highly competitive Eastern Conference.

In 56 games, the one-time All-Star averaged a career-high 19.1 points to go along with 10.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals. He also shot an impressive 55.7 percent from the field.

Although the Heat are favored to advance to the second round as the No. 1 seed, they will need all of their stars, including Adebayo, to get past a tough opponent.

The Hawks aren't a typical No. 8 seed in that they have a legitimate superstar in guard Trae Young and are coming off a strong 2020-21 campaign that saw them surprisingly reach the Eastern Conference Finals.

During the Hawks' Cinderella run to the ECF last season, they knocked off the No. 1 seed in the Philadelphia 76ers, so the Heat have to be on upset alert.

It should also be noted that Atlanta won two pressure-packed play-in games just to get into the postseason, beating both the Charlotte Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers in win-or-go-home scenarios.

Even so, the Hawks will have their hands full against a deep and talented Heat team that enters the playoffs in relatively good standing in terms of health.

Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry will be among Miami's key players in the series, plus reserve Victor Oladipo could play a major role, as he is coming off a 40-point game in the regular-season finale, which was just his eighth game of the campaign.

Being without Adebayo could have left the door open for Atlanta since he is Miami's only dominant interior presence, but with Adebayo set to play in Game 1, it is advantage Heat.