October 3, 2020, 2:41 am
Coming into Friday’s Game 2 of the NBA Finals, the Heat knew that they’d be in for an uphill battle. They had the handicap of missing both Goran Dragic (partially torn plantar fascia) and Bam Adebayo (neck strain). Surprisingly enough, the rest of the team turned up the heat and put up a better, more motivated fight compared to Game 1’s blowout loss.
Alas, the talented duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis still kept up their elite-level play and were too much for the Heat to handle in the end, giving the Lakers a 2-0 edge in the series with a 124-114 win in Game 2.
Coach Erik Spoelstra needed to get creative in this big-versus-small-ball contrast in playstyles. He opted to insert Meyers Leonard and Tyler Herro in the places of Adebayo and Dragic, respectively. Herro was able to live up to the challenge and put up 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one 3-pointer in 43 minutes. Leonard, however, was not as productive, seeing only nine minutes of action and had seven points, one assist and one trey to his name.
The minutes at center for Miami ended going to Kelly Olynyk, who was a Godsend off the bench, chipping in 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting, nine rebounds, three 3s and two assists. The Canadian big man was an active force on offense, making key 3-pointers when the Heat needed it most. But in the end, his deficiencies on the defensive side of the floor took their toll.
On a positive note, Adebayo has reportedly told reporters that he intends to play in Game 3 on Sunday. Good news for Heat fans and his teammates, for sure.
Looking back on tonight’s game, another big reason why the Lakers had to work a little bit harder for the win than in Game 1 was due to Jimmy Butler. He played his heart out and finished the night with 25 points (7-of-17 FG, 11-of-12 FT), eight rebounds and 13 assists. His aggressive play got him more than several trips to the line and he also did his best to get his teammates involved in the action. The valiant effort was sadly still not enough to overcome the James-Davis duo.
Speaking of James and Davis, to AD’s credit, he’s playing some of the best basketball of his career. He’s currently averaging 29.6 points per game over his 28 career playoff games. That’s the third-most in NBA history, behind Allen Iverson (29.7) and Michael Jordan (33.4). In this series in particular, Davis has been near-unstoppable. He shot a crazy 15-for-20 from the field in this one to cap off the night with 32 points, 14 rebounds, one triple, one assist and one steal. Mind you, this comes on the heels of a 34-point scoring output in Game 1. Whether Bam Adebayo, the Heat’s best interior defender, is playing or not, Davis simply cannot be contained.
James, on the other hand, flirted with a triple-double in this one, recording 33 points (14-of-25 shooting), nine rebounds, nine assists, three treys, one steal and one block. He and Davis have been devastating. Even former teammate, Dwyane Wade agreed with Kendrick Perkins that AD has been the best complementary player that James has ever played with. So yes, you can begin those Jordan-Pippen vs. James-Davis comparisons this early.
To be fair, the duo didn’t do it alone tonight. They got a big boost off the bench from veteran Rajon Rondo, who dropped 16 points with 10 assists, four rebounds and three triples. His veteran experience and leadership has been blending well with James, as Rondo is just quietly doing his part to earn his second championship ring.
On the injury front, Danny Green was seen favoring his left hip and even had to ask to be subbed out of the game. Green returned to the game but was clearly not operating at a hundred percent. He’s experiencing some tightness in said hip and his status will be monitored and updated as we get closer to Sunday’s Game 3.
Speaking of which, it looks like the “Lakers in 4” movement has gained some more traction with Friday night’s victory. Of course, the Heat aren’t going to just roll over and hand them a sweep on a silver platter, but from what we’ve seen so far, the onus is definitely on the Heat to make changes and bring something else to the table if they want to alter the current trajectory of this series.