Despite trailing by double digits early in the first quarter, the Lakers cruised to a 116-98 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 1. Led by Anthony Davis’ 34 points and LeBron James being one assist short of another triple-double, the Lakers were able to make a statement to open the NBA Finals.
With talk before the Finals leaning towards the Heat’s depth providing Miami with the advantage in the series, the Lakers needed typical performances from their two stars and plenty of help from their supporting cast to overcome, what seemed to be, a giant Miami advantage.
Danny Green added 3 three pointers and Markieff Morris and Kantavious Caldwell-Pope also added 2 three pointer each to aid the Lakers offensive output in Game 1.
Miami started the game quick and raced out to a 23-10 lead. With great offensive movement and pressure defense, the Lakers looked out of sorts at both ends of the court. Jae Crowder knocked down a three pointer with 5:38 to play in the first, and Frank Vogel called timeout. The triggered a massive run by the Lakers.
James felt like the Lakers did not come out aggressive enough and took some shots early from the Heat. Coming out of the timeout, the Lakers became more aggressive and matched the Heat intensity, signaling the beginning of the end for the Heat in Game 1.
The Lakers then went on an 11-5 run to finish the quarter to take the lead, 31-28 at the end of the 1st Quarter. Shots started falling and the Lakers started to pressure the Heat defensively opening the way for a massive run by the Lakers.
The 11-5 run was just the tip of the iceberg. Coming out of the timeout, the Lakers out scored the Heat, 75-30 grab a 32 point lead in the third quarter.
To make matters worse for the Heat, Miami saw three players hampered by injuries. First of all, Jimmy Butler rolled his left ankle on two different occasions. Then, Goran Dragic injured his left foot and didn’t return. Finally, Bam Adebayo injured his left shoulder. Should the Heat be without Dragic and Adebayo, this could be a quick series.
The silver lining for the Heat is that the Lakers don’t always shoot as great as they did on Wednesday night. Case in point: the Lakers only managed to make 4 three point shots in the second half, and the Heat, with Dragic and Adebayo out of the game, managed to cut the lead back to 13 points. Granted, the Lakers were up by 32 points and cruising, Heat fans should take note. Keep the Lakers away from the basket and force them to shoot threes, you stand a good chance of shutting down the Lakers offense.
Hopefully for the Heat, Dragic and Adebayo will be able to return. With those two in the lineup, the Heat still struggled to hang with the Lakers, but the defensive work after being down by 32 should give the Heat something to build off of moving into Game 2. However, without those two important players, the Heat will struggle to make this a series.
While many believed the Heat had enough athletes to compete with the Lakers, Game 1 proved that if Davis and James are clicking, watch out for the Lakers.