Lakers in the Driver’s Seat: Lead 2-0

Despite missing 31 three point shots and allowing the Heat to shoot 34 free throws (of which they made 31), the Los Angeles Lakers were able to defeat the Miami Heat, 124-114 to take a 2-0 series lead.

After a crushing defeat in Game 1 of an NBA Final, the coaching staff would look at game film and create a different game plan on how to attack their opponent offensively and where to make adjustments on defense.

Unfortunately for Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat, this task was made more difficult by the fact that two starters, Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo, were going to miss Game 2. In their place, the Heat were able to get 24 points from Kelly Olynyk, 13 points from Kendrick Nunn, and 17 from Tyler Herro.

One of the tasks that the Heat had was to slow down the Lakers offense from attacking the basket. When the Lakers are doing this, they are tough to beat. In Game 1, the Lakers were attacking the basket and, in the first half, knocking down the three point shot. In the second half of Game 1, the Heat saw the Lakers shoot threes like they usually do. Could this be a possible weakness the Heat could exploit? Absolutely!

Going to a zone for the majority of the game, the Heat were able to entice the Lakers into jacking three point shots. The Lakers shot 16-47 (34%) from behind the arc. The poor three point shooting and a better rebounding effort, allowed the Heat to stay close.

On offense, the Heat shot 41% from behind the arc and 51% from the field. By overloading one side of the floor and utilizing screens on the weak side, the Heat were able to get easy shots almost all game long.

The poor Laker three point shooting and some easy offense for the Heat seemed like a recipe for victory for the depleted Heat. The biggest problem for the Heat was that when the Lakers were not shooting three pointers, they were knocking down two point shots at will. The Lakers shot 66% from inside the three point line. When the Lakers needed a basket, they worked their offense to the middle of the Heat zone and seemingly scored at will.

With 33 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists from LeBron James, 32 points and 14 rebounds from Anthony Davis, and 16 points and 10 assists from Rajon Rondo, the Lakers were easily able to overcome poor shooting from Danny Green, Kantavious Caldwell-Pope, and Kyle Kuzma.

For the Lakers coaching staff, the focus should be on how to stop Miami offensively and to stop shooting threes. When a team is missing two starters and still scores 114 points, something needs to change defensively. The Lakers seemed to be a step slow on every defensive rotation fouling the Heat constantly. As a result, Miami shot 31-34 from the free throw line. Way too many free points for a team that is going to clearly struggle to score without Adebayo and Dragic.

The second statement that should be made by Frank Vogel is tell his Lakers to stop shooting threes. When the Lakers move offensively and whip the ball around the zone, they are able to get easy looks from high percentage positions on the floor. Game 1 saw the Lakers shoot 50% from inside the arc. In Game 2, they shot 66% from inside the three point line. The game plan should include a simple message for the Lakers: Get to the basket and score at will until the Heat show that they can stop you.

For Miami, the plan should be simple. Continue to the work they did offensively. The one exception should be to try to get Duncan Robinson going early in the game. Robinson has only scored 9 points in the two games (all 9 came in Game 2) and has not really been looking to shoot. If the Heat can get Robinson going, the Lakers might be in trouble. With all of that being said, the Heat are going to need to find a way to keep the Lakers from getting to the basket. It doesn’t matter how much offense the Heat are able to generate, they are not going to outscore the Lakers in a shoot out. Keeping the Lakers away form the basket is a must.

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