There was no magic in the air tonight, at least not if you’re a Miami fan. This was an ugly, grind it out, defensive type of game. In other words, my kind of game! It was closely contested throughout, neither team had a double digit lead. Lakers take this one, 102-96 and now hold a 3-1 series advantage.
The first half was very low scoring, especially with what we are used to nowadays. Neither time scored 50! I haven’t seen that for a while. As I mentioned, it was pretty closely contested throughout and the stat sheet represents that fairly accurately.
|32/75 43%||Field Goals||35/79 44%|
|11/32 34%||3 Pointers||14/39 36%|
|21/26 81%||Free Throws||18/21 86%|
|39 (7)||Rebounds (Offensive)||42 (10)|
|32||Points in the Paint||34|
Los Angeles shot the ball slightly better from all parts of the field. I think Miami did an excellent job of keeping the rebound battle close, but ultimately the Lakers got some big offensive rebounds when the game was on the line. More steals for Miami, obviously leads to more turnovers for Los Angeles. The biggest disparity is in the assists numbers, L.A. going +7.
To the victors go the spoils, so let’s have a look at who stood out for Los Angeles. First, I think LeBron James has sealed another Finals MVP, assuming the Lakers go on to win. James really put his stamp on this game in the second half and lead his team in points, rebounds and assists. James also shot 50% from the field, 40% from three and 83% at the free throw line (10 of 12). Funnily enough, he finished the game a -2 for the Lakers. This is likely due to his turnovers, he had 6 in total, most of them were early on. In his defense, when you have the ball that often, you are more prone to turnovers.
Anthony Davis also struggled to get going early, but made a huge impact on this game defensively. The Lakers had 4 blocks tonight, all 4 of them are credited to Davis. He could still make a case for Finals MVP, but I don’t think it’s as strong. Davis finished with 22 points (50% both overall and from deep), 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and the 4 blocks I already mentioned. Davis was +17 on the evening, a huge improvement from his last outing.
Danny Green scored in double figures. I repeat, Danny Green scored in double figures. 10 points 0n 50% shooting, 2 of 6 from long range. Green added 2 assists, 1 rebound and 2 steals in his beast game of the 2020 playoffs. Admittedly, that’s a low bar, but he performed well tonight. KCP had 15 points, including a couple of big buckets to put the game away late. KCP shot 50% from the field, 37% from three.
Kuzma had 9, also on 50% shooting, 40% from long range. Caruso had 7 (60% overall, 50% from 3). Morris had 9 but shot at a terrible percentage, 25% overall and 28% from deep. Howard had 2 rebounds and 2 turnovers, somehow managing a + rating for the game. I understand how it’s calculated, but it’s not always accurate to how the players performed.
Lastly, I’ll touch on Rondo. It was a dreadful scoring performance from him. 2 points, 1 of 7 overall for 14% and 0 of 2 from long range. I guess my Rondo for MVP prediction will not be panning out. However, he was pretty pivotal on the game in other ways. Rondo had 7 rebounds, 2 of them were offensive ones in the fourth quarter. It’s so impressive when you see a guard come in and get huge rebounds like that. Rondo also continued to be a great playmaker for L.A., finishing the night with 5 assists and a steal.
On the other side of the ball, Jimmy Butler lead the way but he didn’t seem to be the force he was in Game 3. In my eyes, he didn’t seem as confident as he was before. I’m not sure what changed, but he didn’t have that same aggression. I felt like he kept getting under the basket and looking to pass instead of score. I don’t know if he took his foot off because Bam returned, but Miami needed a better performance from Butler. With that being said, he nearly had a triple double and lead the team in points (22), rebounds (10), assists (9) and steals (3). He shot the ball fairly well, going 48% overall and 85% at the free throw line. Unfortunately, he was 0 of 3 from outside. I hope he finds that spark for Game 5.
The returning Bam Adebayo had a solid game, posting 15 points (75%) and 7 rebounds. He looked like a guy who returning from an injury though and didn’t make a huge statement in this game. Crowder continued to shoot a lot of threes and barely make any of them. All of his 7 shot attempts were from long range, he connected on just 2 of them, going 28%. He definitely did some great work defensively and rebounding, but remains a liability on offense. Speaking of poor offense, Kelly Olynk really struggled tonight. He scored 4 points on 25% shooting, connecting on 0 three pointers of his 2 attempts. Nunn was even worse, going 18% for the game for 6 points. Iggy had 3 points on 33% shooting.
In some positive news, both Robinson and Herro had particularly good games. Robinson scored 17 points on 57% shooting, he also connected on half of his three point attempts (3 of 6). Herro continued to be “Mr. Fourth Quarter”, making big shot after big shot in the final period. Herro finished with 21 points, 44% overall and 42% from downtown. Herro also continued to rebound well, adding 7 of them to his box score, to go along with 3 assists and a steal.
Like I said, Miami competed well but they were lacking a superstar and tonight it was obvious. When push came to shove, James and Davis took over in this game. Nobody did that for Miami. You can look at all the analytics you want, but it was as simple as that tonight. Butler was a different player tonight. Bam still looked hurt. Miami needed someone to go crazy and unfortunately, no one did. The next game is scheduled for Friday. A couple of days rest for everyone and then back to the grind. Miami will need to win out from here if they want the title. Butler will have to get back to doing everything. You have to think though, the Lakers probably have it from here.