Miami fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 116-98 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. On the surface, the Heat allowed the Lakers to hit 11 three pointers in the first half and lost the game by 18. Look further, and you will notice that the Heat were highly outmatched in Game 1.
To begin with, the Heat jumped out to a 23-10 first quarter lead. Only to see the Lakers demolish the Heat, over the next 20 game minutes, to take an 87-55 lead with 5:38 remaining in the 3rd Quarter. During this stretch, the Lakers were able to get easy baskets, knock down threes, and inflict lock-down defense on a Heat offense that had been great over their previous three rounds.
We have seen the Lakers play lock-down defense throughout the playoffs. However, allowing teams to shoot great percentages and put up points has also been their M.O., as well. Now the Heat did get hot over a span of the third and fourth quarters, but when you are down 32, it doesn’t really matter how hot you get. You have to be able to stop your opponent on defense. Something the Heat were not able to do for about 42 of the 48 minutes.
Secondly, the Heat are most likely going to be without two starters. Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo have been listed as doubtful. Without Adebayo, the Heat will lack a presence in the middle. With the Lakers already out-rebounding the Heat 54-36 in Game 1, Miami will need to something to keep the Lakers off the boards. Luckily for the Heat, Kendrick Nunn was able to step in and score 18 points. Yes, the points came while the Heat were down by 32, it is 18 points. He was able to get comfortable on the court, and looks like he might be able to give the Heat some scoring without Dragic.
If the Heat can get more offense from the likes of Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro, the Heat might be able to overcome the loss of Adebayo and Dragic. The bigger issue, though, is the Heat defense. We have seen the Heat play great defense throughout the playoffs, but do they have enough to stop the Lakers? The Lakers struggled at the beginning of the game and when they hit the 32 point lead, but for the remainder of the game, the Lakers were able to score at will. If the Lakers do not fall in love with the three point shot and continue to take the ball to the basket, the Heat are going to be in even more trouble.