Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo said Monday he is hopeful for a return to the NBA Finals as soon as Tuesday night's Game 4, with teammate Goran Dragic offering a far less optimistic outlook.
The two have missed the past two games of the best-of-seven series against the Los Angeles Lakers after being injured in Wednesday's Game 1 loss. The Heat then also lost Friday's Game 2, before rallying behind Jimmy Butler's 40-point triple-double to win Sunday's Game 3.
Adebayo has been out with a neck strain, Dragic with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot. Both had been listed as "doubtful" by the team for the past two games. That remains the case with Dragic, but Adebayo was upgraded to questionable on the NBA's Monday injury report.
"I'm getting better," Adebayo said Monday. "It's up to the medical staff. They're trying; I'm trying to get back as quickly as possible. They're trying to make sure I'm safe and ready to play. It's day to day. When they say I'm ready to play, I will be out there.
"Any injury can get worse. They haven't said it could get worse. They just want me to be safe. They want to make sure this injury doesn't get worse and that I'm back to where I was before."
Not that that is necessarily the answer he is looking for.
"This sucks, sitting on the sidelines," he said.
"I don't miss games. That's not me. That's how I'm built. I want to play."
Adebayo said the uncertainty has been difficult.
"Tomorrow I could play," he said. "Tomorrow they could tell me no."
He said the neck injury is not related to the shoulder injury sustained in the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics.
"It's more like soreness," he said when asked if range of motion was an issue. "It's like a neck strain, near your neck, near your brain, more serious than tweaking an ankle. They are being careful with me, making sure I'm 100 percent."
Adebayo was more upbeat in his Monday comments than Dragic.
"I'm doing everything I can do," Dragic said. "It does feel better then when it happened. But we'll see. I don't have a timetable yet."
Dragic said it's not a matter of exacerbating the injury.
"It's already damaged," he said. "I snapped it. The injury is not new. I played the last two series; it was not so severe. It's already as bad as it is. I am dealing with a lot of pain. That's the main concern.
"I don't want to be a liability on the floor for my team. I want to be the best I can be."
Asked if he could return this series, he said, "If I'm honest, I don't know."
Unlike Adebayo, Dragic did not directly address Game 4.
"How I feel right now is probably low (percentage)," he said of a return. "But they told me it could change day to day.
"I want to be out there with my team. That's no secret. That's something I've been working toward for 12 years."
He said the mental pain also is real.
"It's not the easiest thing for me," he said. "Most of the time I ask the guy above us why it had to happen right now."
Coach Erik Spoelstra said Monday there is empathy, but also a need to push forward amid the already difficult circumstances of playing the games at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in a quarantine bubble due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"I can see it in their soul, through their eyes, how much this means to them and how badly they want to get back out there," he said Monday of Adebayo and Dragic. "But you have to compartmentalize. We came here with a purpose."
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