Lakers and Heat gear up for crucial Game 5 of NBA finals, defense and downtown shots to be key for both sides
Barring the second game that saw the Los Angeles Lakers go over 120 points to notch a win over the Miami Heat, the other three games were pretty much average-scoring affairs. Game 4 was the lowest scoring-game with the Lakers edging past the 100-point mark in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. The defenders on either side had their hands full and the scoreline for the majority of the game quite actually crawled as both teams stifled each other with a scintillating display of defense.
There's no doubt this will be another grappling game. And the Lakers in their Black Mamba jerseys will also need the defense gods by their side as they hope to close out the series in Game 5 on Friday. Heat, on the other hand, have no issues playing a defense-driven game. They did that in the playoffs and they can surely do it here judging by the way they played the previous game. It's all about the timing of when to go on offense that both teams will be focusing on.
Miami coach, Erik Spoelstra knows his side's capabilities at clutch time and hoped the team would make more plays than the Lakers just like they did in Games 3 and 4, although the results were different in both the games. "This was in the balance, there were some moments of truth and it came down to making plays,” Spoelstra said post-game after losing Game 4. "We made a lot more plays at the end of (Game 3), they made their plays (in Game 4)."
Agreed that it hurt Miami more after Caldwell-Pope sink a corner 3 with less than three minutes remaining and that gave the Lakers the lead they needed to pull away. However, for Heat, they have another wrinkle with their three-point shots. The lackluster 3's shooting which was their bazooka in the regular season is misfiring at the moment. While Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro managed three 3's each in their collective 13 attempts, they lacked support from Jae Crowder and Kendrick Nunn.
Goran Drajic's experience was sorely missing and that just further compounded their woes. Jimmy Butler who went red-hot in Game 3 was guarded by Anthony Davis and could manage just 22 points as opposed to his 40-point domination in Game 3. Talking about Game 5, Butler spoke of the need to make sure the team was in the best position to win.
"He's an incredible defender. He contests a lot of shots, blocks shots. But I just think I've got to be better at getting my guys involved, more dribble hand-offs, more screens, maybe playing a little bit without the ball, playing off the ball,” said Butler. "That's something that I can learn from, that I've got to be better because I think that's my role … is to make sure that everybody's in the right spot and that I'm putting us in the best position to win. So we've got to switch it up a little bit."
For the Lakers, their streaky 3-pointer shooting will be on top of their list when it comes to addressing issues. Danny Green's form slump will be a cause for concern, but should the magic return, it's another box ticked for the man in purple and gold.
Scoring in the paint is something Spoelstra and Butler will need to address ahead of the all-important fifth game of the finals. Although they did get the better of LeBron James & Co. in Game 3 from the paint with a 52-34 difference, the Lakers made it 34-32 in the following game. That said, there's no doubt that defense and downtown shots will be key for both sides, especially for the Lakers as a win on Friday will crown them as champs.
Los Angeles Lakers vs Miami Heat
Where: AdventHealth Arena
Time and Date: 9 PM ET on Friday (October 9)