|-7 LAL (-108) @ pinnacle|
My 10* Game of the Month is on the LA Lakers at 9:00 ET.
The Miami Heat reached this year's NBA Finals as the East's No. 5 to face the LA Lakers, the West's No. 1 seed. Miami is the first team seeded fifth or lower to reach the NBA Finals since the eighth-seeded New York Knicks lost to San Antonio in 1999. The last team seeded fifth or lower to win an NBA title was Houston in 1995, when it beat Orlando as the West's No. 6 seed.
Miami used a 13-0 run to take a 23-10 lead midway through the opening period of Game 1 but it was ALL Lakers after that. Anthony Davis scored 34 points and added nine rebounds, while LBJ had 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, as the Lakers cruised to a 116-98 win. The Lakers outrebounded Miami 54-36, led by as many as 32 points and made 15 three-pointers. Adding insult to injury, Miami PG Goran Dragic left in the second quarter with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot and PF/C Bam Adebayo left in the third quarter with a shoulder strain.
LBJ scored 33 points with nine rebounds and nine assists in Game 2, while Davis made 14 of his first 15 shots on the way to 32 points, as the Lakers beat the short-handed Miami Heat 124-114 (no Dragic and Adebayo). James and Davis were the first Lakers duo to score at least 32 points in a finals game since Game 3 against New Jersey in 2002, when Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant did it. However, the Heat (still without Dragic and Adebayo) "came up big" and beat the Lakers 115-104 in Game 3. Miami's starters outscored the Lakers' starting five 89-51 and Jimmy Butler played "the game of his life," with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. Butler became the 21st player to have a triple-double in the NBA Finals but it was just the third 40-point triple-double in Finals history.
Now, it's time for Game 4 on Tuesday. Do we have a series? The Heat come in with a renewed sense of confidence as they look to even the best-of-seven series. "We're going to win," Heat swingman Jimmy Butler said of Game 4. "We're going to compete. We're not going to lay down; we're going to fight back in this thing and even it up 2-2." Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said of his star's big performance after Game 3, "How else do you say it other than Jimmy effing Butler," "This was a very urgent game, and he was doing it on both ends of the court. Just put his imprint on every important part of the game." Alrighty then! Meet Jimmy Butler, the incarnation of MJ. A quick reality check of his playoff history, pre-2020. He had appeared in SEVEN postseasons (for three different teams, Bulls, T-wolves and Sixers) with those teams winning THREE of 10 series, going 24-34 (.414).
LBJ played a typical game in Sunday's loss (25-10-8), as he's averaging 27.7-10.7-9.0 through three games. However, the Lakers committed 10 turnovers in the first quarter alone in Game 3, one more than they had total in Game 2. They finished the contest with 20, James being responsible for eight and Anthony Davis five. Davis, after scoring 34 and 32 points in the first two games, took just NINE shots and finished with only 15 points. LA's other three starters (Howard, Green and Caldwell-Pope), combined for a pathetic11 points on 3-0f-13 shooting (23.1%).
LA's complementary players have been an on-and-off situation all season but let me note that the Lakers haven't dropped back-to-back games all postseason. My bet says they don't start here vs a 'wounded' Heat team, even though Miami features "the INCOMPARABLE" Jimmy Butler. Lay the points!