Well it’s not often that after just 1 game of the NBA Finals you can consider a team with one hand already on the Larry O’Brien Trophy, but it certainly is looking that way this year.
The Lakers blew out Miami in Game 1 with a clinical and dominant performance led by their two All-Stars in Lebron James and Anthony Davis. The Heat looked helpless in trying to stop the sheer size and sharp shooting of LA and will need to seriously look at changing up their game plan if they want to make a series of it.
To compound the loss, Miami have some serious injury concerns with starting point guard Goran Dragic and star centre Bam Adebayo both exiting Game 1 early and not returning.
Saturday 3rd of October, 11.10am (AEST)
The Lakers came into Game 1 as heavy favourites and justified the short odds with a comfortable 18-point victory. As has been the case throughout the whole playoffs, Lebron James (25pts 13reb 9ast) and Anthony Davis (34pts 9reb 5ast) again led the way for LA.
Unlike the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Lakers played the Miami zone defence to perfection and had an answer for everything with the ball in hand. The bench was outstanding for Frank Vogel’s team and dragged the game back in their favour after the Heat jumped out to an early lead. It looks their Championship to lose right now.
The Lakers size advantage was clear from the outset as they destroyed Miami in the paint with their big men having their own way for much of the match. LA out-rebounded Miami by 18 and that trend looks set to continue with Heat centre Bam Adebayo in doubt for Game 2 with a shoulder injury.
Once Adebayo exited the game, it looked like a training run for Anthony Davis so you can safely assume the Lakers will continue to feed AD as much as the ball as possible. We are going to be looking to the star big man to continue his dominance in Game 2. I can’t see any Heat defenders that will be able to handle Davis so this looks a nice play.
After a fairytale post-season, Heat Nation were brought back down to Earth in Game 1 where they simply had no answer to the rampaging Los Angeles Lakers. Erik Spoelstra will have his work cut out to get his team back and firing after such a disappointing loss.
You’d think the Heat will need to change their game plan, especially on defence, with the zone style not working at all against a well-drilled Lakers offence. It would not surprise me to see man-on-man defence being implemented and trying to be more aggressive when defending the ball. Whatever the case, they will need to find the form which has carried them from the 5th seed all the way to the NBA Finals.
With Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic both in doubt with injuries there will be added pressure on the Miami starters to carry their team in Game 2. In one of the only positives for Miami from Game 1, their rookie Point Guard Kendrick Nunn (18pts 5reb) stepped in for Dragic and shot the ball well which will give him some much-needed confidence heading into Game 2.
The biggest disappointment for Miami was their long-range shooting which has been a staple of their success throughout these playoffs. Ever-reliable sharpshooter Duncan Robinson went scoreless while they shot only 31% from the arc as a team.
Miami will look to leader Jimmy Butler and arguably their player of the playoffs, Tyler Herro who will both have to carry their team more so than ever. With Dragic looking like he will miss Game 2, I expect Herro to get even more opportunity to handle the ball and see him putting in a big performance to try level the series.
While as an NBA fan, I hope for a tighter, more exciting Game 2, I just can’t see a depleted Miami having the answers to the Lakers and their huge size advantage across the floor. The inexperience of the Heat players was well and truly on display in Game 1 and I expect Lebron and his teammates to continue to expose this throughout the series.
I think the Lakers will win once again and I’m banking on Miami’s struggles shooting the ball to continue.
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