The Los Angeles Lakers' dominance doesn’t appear to have an answer
-- by Juicy-J
For all of the Miami Heat’s pride and passion to keep Game 2 reasonably close, without two starters, there was one statistic that summarized the gulf between these teams at present.
The Los Angeles Lakers, who do not shoot three-pointers particularly often or accurately when compared to other contenders, took 20 more shots from deep than did the Heat, the NBA’s most efficient three-point shooting squad.
That’s because the Lakers keep getting second and third chances, utilizing their size advantage for 16 offensive rebounds. And on the other end, they squeezed the perimeter, with only Jimmy Butler – and occasionally Kendrick Nunn – able to exploit the strategy to enter the paint.
So what changes in Game 3, with the Lakers up 2-0?
Well, for starters, one of those Heat starters may return. Both Bam Adebayo (shoulder, neck) and Goran Dragic (foot) are again listed as doubtful, but Adebayo told Yahoo! that he plans to play, and the Heat are reportedly more open to it.
That will help for sure, but how much?
Three Keys for Sunday's Game 3:
- Adebayo’s effectiveness: If he can play, Meyers Leonard likely leaves the rotation again, with Kelly Olynyk getting more minutes that he was prior to Game 2. Olynyk found his shot on Friday, and his herky-jerky game gave the Lakers some problems. But it’s really about Bam. He’s the core all of the Heat do on both ends, and if he can’t wreak his usual havoc on switches, the Lakers will continue to get the comfortable looks they did in Game 2. At the very least, he needs to box out Anthony Davis.
- Herro Ball: The rookie Tyler Herro was better in Game 2, settling into this series some. But they need a game close to what he produced to propel the Heat past the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. He has struggled some against the Lakers size, but he’s also shown a propensity to figure things out, so there will be a breakout at some point. Needs to be Sunday.
- Lakers focus: Really, it comes down to this. LeBron James tweeted that he was up early Saturday because his mind was still racing after the prior night’s win. If he and Davis are locked in, it’s hard to see how the Heat can compete in their current state. But the Lakers have relaxed at times this season, and even did some in Friday’s game.
The Better Bet: Lakers win, but this time the Heat cover the 8.5.
Photo Credit: USA Today