The Lakers again got the job done in game two against an undermanned Miami Heat team without Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo. The Lakers star duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for 65 points in the 10 point win. Can Miami somehow stage a comeback and make this a series? Or will the Lakers continue on their winning ways?
LA Lakers vs Miami Heat
Game 3, Sunday September 4th, 7.30pm (ET)
It was a tough night for the Heat as they struggled to find a way without their star big man Bam Adebayo. Whilst Myers Leonard and Kelly Olynk battled hard, they are way out of their depth guarding Anthony Davis, who looks to be the front runner for Finals MVP. Tyler Herro broke a new NBA record becoming the youngest player to start in the NBA Finals as he dropped 17 points. Whilst Jimmy Butler did his best to keep Miami in touch with the Lakers, with 28 points, 13 assists and 8 rebounds.
Without Bam Adebayo in the Heat lineup, the Lakers dominated the paint in game two. The Lakers won the rebounding battle 44-37, and were a remarkable 16-6 ahead on the offensive rebounds. To go with the rebounding troubles for Miami, the Lakers had a +10 advantage in points in the paint, which proved to be the difference. Adebayo has told reporters he expects to be in the lineup, and they will need him desperately after the Lakers dominance on the boards and second chance points. Offensively Miami put together a good performance, shooting 50% from the field, 40% from three point range and 91% from the free throw line. It’s only the fourth time in Finals history that a team has shot 40/50/90. They just simply couldn’t get stops on the defensive end against Davis and LeBron.
Once again with Miami, the value looks to be in the total points market. Miami shot extremely well from the field and have scored over 105 points in fourteen of their last seventeen games. Even with rotations made to the line up in game two, the Heat comfortably passed this mark. With the likely return of Bam Adebayo who has not only been an excellent scorer averaging 18 ppg during the playoffs, but his passing was sorely missed in game two. Abebayo’s passing creates plenty of opportunities for the likes of Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro. Adebayo has averaged 4.6 assists during the playoffs, excellent numbers for a big man. This market is simply too good to overlook, excellent value for the Heat to hit the over on this line.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers once again dominated on the offensive end, with a dazzling display from Anthony Davis and LeBron James. The star duo combined 65 points on an astounding 64.4%. Whilst the star duo dominated, there were important contributions from the Lakers role players. Rajon Rondo (16 points, 10 assists), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (11 points, 4 assists, 4 rebound) and Kyle Kuzma (11 points) all played important roles in the victory. The Lakers can see the finish line it’s nearly there, a win in game three would effectively end the series.
In his first appearance in the NBA Finals Anthony Davis has shown up on the big stage, putting up historic numbers. Davis became only the fifth player in NBA history to score 30 points in each of his first two Finals games. Davis scored at least 30 points through the first three quarters in games one and two. He’s the first Laker to achieve this feat since Shaquille O’Neal back in 2002. LeBron has been no slouch either, as he dropped 33 points, 9 assists and 9 rebounds in game two, to go along with his 25 point, 13 rebound and 9 assist performance in game one. The question coming into the series was the battle of the superstars vs the all round team mantra, so far the superstars have won this battle convincingly. Expect the star duo to keep pounding the ball inside the paint after they combined for a dominant 22-29 from inside the paint in Game 2.
Not only has Davis’ scoring output been remarkable, he has been utterly dominant on the boards. David grabbed 14 rebounds in game two, and remarkably had more offensive rebounds himself (8) than the entire Miami team (6). The Heat don’t have an answer for Davis on the glass, with the amount of talls the Lakers have in comparison to the Heat they don’t face any challenges rebounding the ball. And with Bam Adebayo playing with a lingering injury it presents even more of an opportunity for Davis to continue his incredible work on the boards. There’s pretty good value in Davis’ rebounds over/under market too, whilst he had some poor rebounding stats against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets, Davis has dominated against the other sides that don’t possess the league’s best centre. Excluding the western conference finals, in 9 of the 12 games Davis has played, he’s recorded over 10 rebounds. This is a very generous line for Davis against a Heat side that has struggled to rebound the ball this series.
The signs are not looking good for the Heat. Miami shot the lights out from the field in game two, becoming only the fourth team to shoot 40/50/90 in a finals game, yet they still lost by 10 points. Miami are struggling to get stops on the defensive end as the Lakers use Davis to expose the zone defence, The Lakers dominated the boards and second chance points in game two, and with the Heat’s lack of bigs that stat will likely continue throughout the rest of the series.
In Miami’s five losses this postseason, four of those defeats have come by double digit margins. With their injury worries and their inability to execute their zone defence like they did in their previous two series, this trend is likely to continue. Expect AD and LeBron to continue charging towards basketball immortality and cover the line in game three.