In games 1 and 2 Jimmy Butler had a point guard, pass first mentality. He would aggressively drive into the paint and have a potential lay-up opportunity but instead he would then kick the ball out to one of the Miami guards for a jump shot, and Miami lost the first two games. Jimmy has the skills but he needed to change his role for the Heat in this NBA Finals series against the Lakers. The Lakers are not the Celtics, Jimmy had to go into attack mode and his mental change was evident early on in Game 3 when he drove into the paint. But, instead of passing it out for an open perimeter shot, he slam dunked the ball on the Lakers center Anthony Davis.
The play was only two points and it was just in the first quarter of the game, but this was a defining moment for the Heat. It established a momentum, a sense of aggressive urgency, that the Lakers either would not or could not match the entire game. The Heat attacked the Lakers’ weakness on offense by slashing diagonally into the paint, as well as moving their entire team out of the paint which forced the Laker big men to leave the paint, which exposed open lanes for the Heat players to cut into to find open looks.
The Heat took a page out of the Rockets’ playbook by playing small ball, but can playing small ball win the NBA Finals?
I still think the Lakers win the 2020 Covid Finals but if, and it is a big if, if Miami keeps spreading the floor out on offense giving their players open cutting lanes for either easy two point floaters inside the paint or passing out to the perimeter for open threes. Basically, if Miami hits the majority of their open shots, and they did in game 3 shooting as a team 51% from the field, the Heat still have a chance. Because besides LeBron the Heat as a whole team are a lot faster than the Lakers.
I will always believe that to win a NBA Championship the winning team always plays the best defense, and they have a traditional big man as a defensive anchor in the paint. Well, Miami has no big man, the Lakers have the size but they did not use their bigs appropriately. Miami played great team defense even though they are undersized they were able to easily out muscle Anthony Davis who has shown at times to have zero post game because he is weak. He probably cannot even bench press his own body weight, strength matters in the NBA Finals, AD finished with only 15 points, that is not going to win the NBA Finals. Even though Miami pushed AD around he is still faster than many small forwards which is a big advantage for the Lakers. Dwight Howard only played 14 minutes because he is just too damn slow. The quick team defense of Miami swarmed the Lakers who had 19 turnovers compared to the Heat who only had 12, you multiply those 7 extra turnovers by 2 and you get 14 transition points, and that’s the game folks.
The Heat beat the Lakers 104 -115.
Can Jimmy Butler play at such a high level for the rest of this series? Can Jimmy get a 40 point triple double again? JB is the anchor for this Heat team, his play trickles down to the rest of the team, similar to LeBron James on the Lakers, who had 25,10, 8. LBJ obviously had a bad game because if LeBron does not have a “Herculean”, game for the ages, the Lakers do not win. In fact, this Lakers team without LeBron does not make the playoffs. Miami had five guys score in the double figures, the Lakers only had four. The Lakers supporting cast and bench played very bad, spotlight on Danny Green who was complete garbage last night. His niche on the team was supposed to be the spot up shooter like Ray Allen, Bruce Bowen, Steve Kerr; for him to be the solid 3-point shooter for the Lakers. Well, Green played 17 minutes with only 2 points. Come on Danny Boy, the Lakers need you to step your game up! Frank Vogel needs to dust off that old playbook before he’s the next Doc Rivers.
Let’s Go Lakers!!! Win it for Kobe and Gigi!!!