As BetOnline customers witnessed, the Los Angeles Lakers fell behind by double digits early against the Miami Heat, but then came roaring back in a display of shock and awe that actually took some casualties with it. The Heat may find themselves down a couple of players as we move into Game 2, which will start at 9 PM ET on Friday.
Here’s the latest word – Goran Dragic has a foot injury and Bam Adebayo has a neck strain. Both of these players are listed as doubtful for action. Jimmy Butler has an ankle sprain as well, so these are things that will throw a monkey wrench into the Heat’s plans.
And what should that plan be? Well, we’re figuring that on the defensive front, they have to get bigger. They did give Kelly Olynyk some playing time in Game 1, but they had fallen well behind by that point. They have to be able to contest rebounds if the Lakers are going with Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis side-by-side for any length of time, and they also can’t be left with nothing but outside jump shots.
Whether there is a “solution” or not remains to be seen. Howard was actually used for only 15 minutes, and in fact had a figure of minus-2. But Davis rambled for 34 points. And there were a lot of easy buckets there. Interestingly enough, the Heat actually had the edge in points in the paint (46-38), but the Lakers, as they have in the other two meetings this season, had a substantial advantage on the boards (54-36). And they did an excellent job of preventing Miami from hitting the offensive boards (only five).
So yes – size matters.
And i the NBA Finals betting odds as they are established at BetOnline for this game, the Lakers are bigger favorites than they were in Game 1:
Los Angeles Lakers -9.5
Miami Heat +9.5
Over 216.5 points -110
Under 216.5 points -110
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So much of Game 1 occurred in “garbage time,” but it’s not like either team took their big guns out of the game – voluntarily anyway. Davis and LeBron James played 38 and 36 minutes, respectively, and they combined for 59 of the team’s 116 points. But the Lakers showed some sloppiness out there after they amassed a 30-point lead. They were making a lot of triples early, and they started to go three-point-crazy. In fact, they heaved up 45% of their shots from beyond the arc, and they really shouldn’t be doing that. This will especially be the case if Adebayo can’t play. The Lakers have two players the Heat can’t really defend, and the triple does not have to be a substantial part of either player’s repertoire.
The Heat got some disappointing results from their outside shooters, namely Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. Herro had a 31.4% Usage figure when he was in the game; to give you some perspective, that is higher than either LeBron or Davis had. And while he scored 14 points off the bench, he was 6-for-18 from the field and his plus-minus was a horrific minus-35. In other words, when he was NOT playing, the Heat outscored the Lakers by 17 points. The problem is that if they have two or three stars who can’t go, Herro HAS to play a lot.
Robinson, the undrafted success story out of Michigan (by way of Williams College, alma mater of George Steinbrenner), is a different case. The Lakers seemed to not give him much opportunity to shoot at all. In 27 minutes, he got four field goal attempts – all triples – and was scoreless. Of course, 606 of Robinson’s 687 attempts were from downtown this season, so you don’t exactly have to play off of him. The Lakers know that. Yet, Robinson needs to be a bigger part of this offense.
That Miami shot just 31.4% from three-point territory should not be a surprise. In the previous two meetings, the Lakers held the NBA’s second -most accurate three-point shooting team to 17% and 30%. The Celtics knew to concentrate on thwarting Miami from long distance too; they just didn’t do enough of the other things right. They didn’t have imposing big man either. With two of the more versatile guys doubtful to go, the Heat may find themselves starved for offense.
But I do expect Erik Spoelstra to come up with some kind of defensive game plan, even if it is at the risk of offense. We can’t put it past Miami to “back door” its way into a cover; after all, they had cut a 30-point lead to just 13 two nights ago. But we prefer to look in the direction of an “under,” if the Lakers make a real project out of stopping Herro and Robinson again.
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