Nothing like a 75-30 run and injuries to the three most important players on a team to double a point spread from the previous game.
The Miami Heat were just +4.5 underdogs Wednesday night, but dropped Game 1 by 18 after a strong start, then had Jimmy Butler (ankle), Bam Adebayo (shoulder) and Goran Dragic (foot) all get hurt. Butler stayed in the game and Thursday declared himself ready for Game 2. Dragic and Adebayo, however, are listed as doubtful, with Adebayo’s ailment mostly about pain tolerance but Dragic running the risk of further damage and an even longer rehab, entering free agency.
So Dragic shouldn’t be counted on for the rest of the NBA Finals, while it seems as if we may see Adebayo again, maybe even in Game 2.
What can the Heat, now +9.5 point underdogs (SEE SPREADS.CA), do to keep it close?
Need All-Rookie Nunn:
Erik Spoelstra likes to keep his bench rotations intact, so it’s likely that Kendrick Nunn, not Tyler Herro, will get the start in Game 2, after showing some life in Wednesday’s second half. Nunn is a capable scorer and he’ll be counted on now. He needs to get to his midrange game, and give Butler some relief.
Spoelstra has shown little to no confidence in Kelly Olynyk during the postseason, often going without a big at all, to avoid using the stretch-shooting Canadian. But with Adebayo hobbled or out entirely, Olynyk’s dribble-handoff capability becomes a necessity. The question is whether he can rebound at all against the Lakers’ large front line, and what variety of horrors Anthony Davis will unleash upon him on the defensive end.
Your show, Jimmy:
Butler was aggressive from the start of Game 1, attacking the Lakers’ bigs and getting to the basket, and the Heat collapsed when he sat. If his ankle is OK, he needs that same mentality. His pal Dragic provided relief for him during the postseason, carrying much of the ballhandling and scoring burden. With Dragic almost certainly out, it falls on Butler to set the tone and give him teammates confidence. Of the belief that the Heat will roll over three more times, Butler said, “I beg to differ.” He’s the guy who has to make that difference.
The Better Bet: Lakers by 12. Miami will compete, because they always do, but this is too much.
-- by Juicy J