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Bam Adebayo’s defense over Kyrie Irving was even more impressive than his winning shot

Bam Adebayo ended Sunday’s game between the Heat and the Nets with a stroke, draining a midrange jump shot as time expired and giving Miami a 109-107 victory.

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The buzzer-beater capped a formidable overall performance from Adebayo, who finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and two steals in 33 minutes. This shot represented the work Adebayo did to become more than just an athlete rolling on the rim. The 23-year-old has already made huge strides early in his career and has shown that he will be an attacking force in the league for some time.

And yet, Adebayo’s display on the defensive side of this contest was even more impressive than his heroic feats of the Crisis, especially his work against Brooklyn star Kyrie Irving. Adebayo limited Irving to zero – yes it is zero – field goals against him as the main defender, according to ESPN Stats and Info. Keep in mind that Irving is averaging 27.3 points per game this season while coming close to shooting games 50-40-90 (field goals, 3 points and free throws).

It was not a case of misleading statistics. Adebayo found himself keeping Irving in isolation situations throughout the game, including on the Nets’ final offensive possession.

Adebayo stayed in position consistently, mirroring Irving’s moves and challenged without fouling.

Forcing one of the game’s most creative scorers to tough attempts may not fit as perfectly into a climax reel as a winning shot, but that’s what made Adebayo’s leap possible in first place.

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