Bam-dy Moss? Heat’s Adebayo says football prowess comes out when Kevin Love goes deep

LOS ANGELES — If Monday night’s pairing with Kevin Love was the start of a New Year’s new way of thinking, then count in Bam Adebayo.

Because for Adebayo, there is a connection with Love’s outlet passes that transcends their Miami Heat jerseys.

“I played football in high school,” Adebayo explained. “I played D end and wide receiver. I was the Randy Moss on the team. You just throw it, and it’s in my hands, I go get it.”

That had Love taking pause.

“He’s funny, because sometimes he’s like, ‘No, don’t throw it,’ ” Love said with a smile, with the Heat continuing their five-game trip with a Wednesday night game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Arena. “But he’s so athletic, and when I see the back of the defender’s head, I’m expecting that he’s going to make the catch. I have trust in him and he has trust in me that I’m going to put it on the right spot.

“But Randy Moss? I don’t know about that.”

While the initial plan might have been to play Adebayo and Love side by side, that largely has been shelved by coach Erik Spoelstra in favor of smaller, quicker, more athletic options at power forward.

But in Monday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, with the Heat playing in the absences of Caleb Martin and Haywood Highsmith, among others, Adebayo and Love played 17 minutes together. That’s out of the 85 total minutes they have played together since Love was removed from the starting lineup at the start of November.

“I think it’s good to mix it in, especially with Bam, who’s so dynamic, can guard one through five, can do so many things out there on the court,” Love said of the unexpected extended reunion. “So if I can roll and get a smaller defender on me, Bam’s going to make that pass or he’s going to get to that next play, he’s going to get in the pocket and play off of that. So I thought that was a good look.

“It can give us a ton of space out there. So I think it’s a good luxury for our team, that if we decide to go big we can use that lineup. We haven’t seen a lot of it, but I think it’s good to get some reps of it throughout when it makes sense.”

While Love, 35, emphasized he rolls with the decisions made by Spoelstra, Adebayo, 26, said he savors the collaboration.

“Obviously being alongside K-Love, it’s always asking questions,” Adebayo said. “He’s a champion. He’s been the one option before, he’s been the two option, he’s come off the bench, he’s been the sixth man, he’s been in all those roles. So as a seven-year player, my thing is just soaking up all the knowledge.”

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While there was an exception to the passing-game rule on Monday night when Adebayo at one point connected with Love with a hit-ahead pass off a defensive rebound, it mostly has been Adebayo on the receiving end of Love’s outlets.

“When K-Love’s in the game,” Adebayo said, “if K-Love gets the rebound, I’m gone. So just having that mindset. If it’s a good chance we’ll get the rebound, I’ll take off.”

But Bam-dy Moss?

“There’s very few big men that can catch quite like that,” Love said of Adebayo. “I don’t know if I’ve thrown to a better five man, four or five man, than him. Maybe like (former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate) Lauri Markkanen. I think that would be it. You can put LeBron (James) in there, but he’s an everything, all the positions.

“Bam, he’s great, someone I’m always looking for. It’s certainly a weapon.”