Free Pick for Heat - Lakers Game 4
The Miami Heat used rookie Tyler Herro extensively in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. But the real "hero" stuff came from Jimmy Butler. And BetOnline customers should not forget that he had turned an ankle in Game 1 that was putting his status a little in doubt. But there's no doubt about Butler now, not after his triple-double that included 40 points in Miami's 115-104 victory which puts things in a different perspective.
So now we are at the point where the Heat will try to get back to what worked for them in Game 3, while the Lakers are looking to make adjustments.
And to add another angle, Bam Adebayo, who suffered a neck strain in Game 1 and had to sit out since, has been upgraded to questionable. He's a better bet to play then Goran Dragic, who has a torn plantar fascia (foot injury).
The Lakers looked somewhat listless and uninspired last time out, and maybe they were taking for granted that they would roll over the banged-up Heat. Butler took advantage of that to post 40 points, eleven rebounds and 13 assists. And before the end, LeBron James left the court like a crybaby. ABC's Mark Jackson said that was "not a good look."
He's right. It wasn't.
Will his look improve in Game 4, slated for 9 PM ET on ABC? At BetOnline, the Lakers are still solid favorites:
Los Angeles Lakers -7.5
Miami Heat +7.5
Over 219 points -110
Under 219 points -110
When I look at a game like this, I ask myself, "What is an anomaly and what can be duplicated?" I don't think Butler is going to go off like he did in Game 3, because the Lakers will make someone else prove they can be "the man." Whether that's Bam or not, we don't know.
Anthony Davis was healed to 15 points, and he hadn't even gotten off a shot attempt before he was on the bench with two fouls. Not sure we're going to see that again.
Could the Lakers be forced into 20 turnovers again? Hmmm. It's possible, but not likely.
What CAN be duplicated about the Heat from the other night is that they can play a zone defense again. This was a move specifically designed to shut off the middle. You can maybe throw the ball into the paint, but people collapse at that point. They sag a little, with the effect of cutting off drives to the hoop. So what they aim to do is minimize what Anthony Davis can do in the paint, as well as prevent one of the things LeBron James does very well.
It does allow teams to shoot outside jumpers more than usual. And it has a tendency to force the Lakers to do something they have been doing way too much of, which is to heave up triples. On the season they were 23rd in the league in three-point percentage, attempting less than 32 a game. In the first three games, they have tried 42 treys a game, with around the same so-so percentage. So in other words, the Heat are making the Lakers do what they DON'T do best.
And think about this - Miami held L.A. to a playoff-low 34 points in the paint in Game 3. That comes after being dominated close to the hoop in the first two games, and losing the rebounding battle badly.
The zone also allows opponents the opportunity for chasing the offensive boards, and that's because it is more difficult to block out when you're not playing man-to-man, so this is where the Heat have to be careful.
I can see the Heat going predominantly with a zone defense in this game, and the Lakers continuing to throw up too many long distance shots. They'll use Kyle Kuzma a lot, and he and Markieff Morris combined for 9-of-19 from the arc in Game 3. But the Heat are fine with LeBron and Davis taking three-pointers. That isn't going to beat them.
At the same time, the Lakers are holding the Heat below their season accuracy rate from downtown. So expect Butler to get some extra attention, where they make the Heat find another way. Of course - and this goes for either side - if one of these gets hot from tripleville it is a real difference-maker. But when you make the favored team do what isn't its best thing you are not promoting a high-scoring game. So we'll move with the UNDER here.
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