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Lakers ready to switch gears if Heat’s Bam Adebayo can play

Lakers forward LeBron James passes the ball after being met at the basket by Heat center Bam Adebayo during Game 1..
Lakers forward LeBron James passes the ball after being met at the basket by Heat center Bam Adebayo during Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

From the Lakers’ perspective, they have a more effective and traditional defensive unit when Miami Heat All-Star center Bam Adebayo plays in the NBA Finals.

Adebayo hasn’t played in the last two games and called himself “day to day” because of a neck injury, leaving him uncertain for Game 4 on Tuesday night against the Lakers at AdventHealth Arena. His teammate, guard Goran Dragic, said Monday he was unsure when he would be able to play again after missing Games 2 and 3 with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot.

At 6 feet 9, Adebayo plays closer to the basket than his backups, and that allows the Lakers to play to their defensive strengths with the physical 6-10 Dwight Howard and the long-armed 6-10 Anthony Davis at center.

Adebayo has the ability to initiate Miami’s offense, but he doesn’t venture outside very much to score, which allows the Lakers to protect the basket better.

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“If Bam comes back — obviously he’s been hurt — but that allows us to play a more traditional style,” Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said on a videoconference Sunday night. “It allows us to really key in on what we do best defensively. So, we’ll have to wait and see what happens with that.”

When Adebayo sat out the last two games, the Heat started Meyers Leonard at center and brought in reserve Kelly Olynyk in the best-of-seven series the Lakers lead 2-1.

Five takeaways from the Lakers’ 115-104 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night, when Jimmy Butler had a 40-point triple-double.

Because those two were able to knock down three-pointers, the Lakers had to extend their defense. Olynyk scored 17 points in Game 3, shooting three for five from three-point range. Leonard made his only three-point try in Miami’s 115-104 victory in Game 3.

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“There’s things that Meyers and Kelly do that Bam doesn’t do, but we also understand that there’s things Bam does that not too many guys in this league can do,” Lakers forward LeBron James said Monday. “They create different challenges depending on who’s out on the floor.”

Adebayo said his injury is “more of like soreness.”

“Tomorrow, I could play,” Adebayo said Monday. “Tomorrow, they might tell me no. I don’t know yet. I’m just trying to do everything I can necessary to just be prepared for when I do get to play.”

Dragic said he doesn’t have a “timetable yet” on when might be able to return, but he put his chances of playing in Game 4 as “probably low.”

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Green dealing with hip issue

Lakers guard Danny Green said his hip injury hasn’t stopped him from playing and it won’t stop him from doing so in Game 4.

“I’m playing, man, so I’m good,” Green said Monday. “I’m feeling fine.”

Green has struggled with his shot in the series, shooting 21.7% from the field overall and 20% (four for 20) from three-point range.

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“Yeah, he has some tightness in his hip. It’s not an injury,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Monday. “They’re trying on a daily basis to make sure that they keep it loose. I don’t know how much that’s having an impact on his play, but he’s able to go. So we’ll continue to monitor it.”

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