NBA Finals Game 2: Lakers/Heat Preview

by Big Al Staff

The NBA Finals continue tonight with Game 2 of the Miami Heat/Los Angeles Lakers series. The Lakers rallied from a 13-point deficit in the 1st quarter.  They outscored the Heat by a 104 to 73 margin the rest of the way to cruise to a 116-98 victory. Los Angeles covered the 4.5-point spread with the game staying under the 217 point total. 

The final score may not communicate just how dominant the Lakers were in this opening game. For the tenth time in sixteen playoff games, LA reached the 60 point threshold in the first half by putting up 65 points in the first twenty-four minutes of play. The Lakers made 60% of their shots from 3-point land in the first half. They finished the game with a 39% mark on 15 of 38 shooting from downtown. They dominated the interior with Anthony Davis leading the way with 34 points along with nine rebounds and five assists. The Lakers also got to the free-throw line 27 times, which was 13 more attempts than what the Heat were able to manage. 

Miami continued their recent struggles with their 3-point shooting as they made only 11 of their 35 shots from the 3-point line for a 31% shooting percentage. After shooting 38% from behind the arc in their first two playoff series, the Heat shot just 32.3% from 3-point land in the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston. 

Yet head coach Erik Spoelstra has bigger problems now. Miami endured two significant injuries in that game, which will have a substantial impact as this series moves forward. Bam Adebayo suffered a strained neck while Goran Dragic experienced a plantar tear in his left foot. Both are listed as doubtful for this game after playing 21 and 14:50 minutes, respectively, on Wednesday. These are second and third-leading scorers on the team, with Adebayo averaging 17.8 points per game and Dragic adding 19.9 points per game. Jimmy Butler also has an ankle issue after Wednesday’s game, but he is listed as probable to play. 

The word from the Miami camp is that Adebayo intends to play even with the injured shoulder. It is anyone’s guess how long he can give it and how effective he will be far from 100%. Dragic seems definitive to be out for tonight’s game. Not only was the team’s second-leading scorer, but he was chipping in 4.0 Rebounds-Per-Game along with 4.6 Assists-Per-Game for the Heat. Miami has its third-worst offensive rating and worst defensive rating when he is not on the court. Spoelstra is likely to bump on Tyler Herro’s minutes while giving more playing time to Kendrick Nunn to make up for Dragic’s absence. Nunn’s return to the rotation is intriguing as he was in the starting lineup for this team during the regular season. Nunn had fallen out of favor in the bubble, but that may speak to the emergence of Herro than it does a drawback to Nunn’s game. He scored 18 points with five rebounds and two assists off the bench in Game 1.

Kelly Olynyk, Meyers Leonard, and Solomon Hill are the frontcourt players expected to get more playing time for the injured Adebayo. Spoelstra may elect to deploy smaller lineups without Adebayo with the hopes that his team can shoot their way to victory. 

The Lakers have jumped to a -9.5-point favorite for Game 2 with the oddsmakers and the market estimating that the loss of Adebayo and Dragic being worth about five points. The total is 216.5. ABC has the broadcast at 9 PM ET.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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