Will the Lakers Be Crowned As Champions Tonight?
Tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers have the chance to become NBA champions once again. They currently hold a 3–1 series lead over the Miami Heat, and are heavily favored to end the series tonight. So is tonight the night when Lebron and company will hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy? Or will the Miami Heat stay alive and force a game six. Lets look deeper at each game of the series to see which outcome is more likely.
Starting with game one, which saw Los Angeles pull away with a 116–98 victory. In that game Anthony Davis and Lebron James were both great. Davis finished with 34 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and three blocks. James was one assist shy of a triple-double, finishing with 25 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists. As for the Heat, it was Jimmy Butler and everyone else. Injuries struck Miami, causing only one starter besides Butler to score double figures (Jae Crowder with 12). The Lakers as a team shot better than the Heat in every aspect. Los Angeles finished shooting 45.2% from the field (42.7% for Miami), 39.5% from three (versus 31.4%), and 92.6% from the free throw line (78.6% for the Heat). Los Angeles also dominated the boards, finishing with 62 total rebounds (nine offensive) opposed to just 40 for Miami. The lone bright spot for the Heat was they committed fewer turnovers than the Lakers (8 compared to 12). In the end however, if game five goes like game one the Miami Heat will be heading home.
Moving on to game two, where LA won a slightly closer game 124–114. Once again it was the AD and Lebron show. Both players scored over 30 (33 for James, 32 for Davis), with AD securing 14 boards. Lebron also added in nine rebounds and nine assists. The Heat got a usual contribution of 25 from Jimmy Butler, while also getting a surprise 24 points from Bam Adebayo’s replacement Kelly Olynyk. This game should worry Miami however. They shot better from the field (50.7% to 50.5%), from three-point range (40.7% to 34%), and from the free throw line (91.2% to 58.8%) than the Lakers. They also only committed one more turnover than Los Angeles (10 to 9). Yet they still lost by double-digits. Once again the issue for the Heat is size, as Miami was outrebounded by LA 52 to 41. The Lakers also secured 16 offensive rebounds in game two. As was the case for game one, if game two repeats itself tonight, LA will be champions.
Game three was the only victory of the series for Miami so far. They defeated LA 115–104. This happened for a few reasons. First being Anthony Davis wasn’t himself. He finished with 15 points, five rebounds, three assists, and zero blocks. Jimmy Butler on the other hand perhaps had the game of his career. He had a triple-double, finishing with 40 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. He also added in two steals and two blocks. Butler wasn’t going to let Miami get swept and it showed. The team also shot better than LA from the field, from three-point rage, and from the free throw line. The Heat also committed seven fewer turnovers than the Lakers (20 to 13). The biggest stat though, may be the rebound differential. Game three was the first time Los Angeles didn’t outrebound Miami by double digits (50 to 43). A repeat of Jimmy Butler’s game three heroics may be unlikely, but unfortunately it’s probably Miami’s only hope.
Finally we reach game four, which was a 102–96 victory for the Lakers. Lebron was his usual self, finishing with 28 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists. Anthony Davis had a good game, but didn’t necessarily perform up to his lofty standards on offense. He totaled 22 points and nine rebounds. He did however, add in four blocks on the defensive end, while assisting in limiting Jimmy Butler to 22 points. The shooting percentages for game four were similar, with LA edging out Miami in field goal percentage (44.3% to 42.7%), three-point percentage (35.9% to 34.4%), and free throw percentage (85.7% to 80.8%). Both teams committed 15 turnovers, while the Heat once again kept the rebound battle close (51–44 in favor of LA). Unfortunately for Miami, in a closely contested game Los Angeles was still able to pull out a victory.
So where does that leave both teams for game five?
The Lakers are clearly in the drivers seat, and have proven they can win in multiple ways. If they outrebound Miami by double digits they can win (games one and two). If they get out-shot by Miami they can win (game two). If they out-shoot Miami they can win (games one and four). It appears as though Miami can only win if everything goes right. They need a historic performance out of Jimmy Butler, while also needing Los Angeles to beat themselves. This series should end tonight. The Lakers switched to their ‘Black Mamba’ uniforms for game five as well. The team will want to close out the series tonight for Kobe. Los Angeles is also yet to lose a game in the playoffs while wearing said uniforms. The Lakers will be champions after tonight’s game. I also don’t think it will be particularly close. LA will win by double-digits, and be champions once again.