People expected fireworks when the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat met in the 2020 NBA Finals. In Game 1, it was mostly the Lakers who showed their strength.
The best teams from the East and West certainly duked it out in the first quarter, and the Heat showed no fear on offense or defense. They shot well from beyond the arc, aggressively drove to the basket, and used great ball movement to surge to a 23-10 lead with 5:36 left in the opening period.
The Lakers weren’t even fazed, though. They forced a 16-point turnaround to finish the quarter with a 31-28 lead.
The Lakers kept the pressure on in the second quarter, and continued shooting well from three point land to force Erik Spoelstra to call a timeout with 6:09 left in the second. It was a wise timeout as the Lakers had increased their lead to 49-43 and had started to find a comfortable rhythm.
That timeout didn’t do much, as the Lakers bench went on a scoring spree to make it a 54-43 game. By the time the first half ended, the Lakers had pushed the lead to 65-48 to complete a 30-point turnaround from when they were down 13.
The Lakers shot an otherworldly clip on their threes in the first half, making 11 of 17 or 64.7%. They shot 56.4% from the field overall. Oh, and they also were a perfect 10 of 10 from the free throw line.
A concerning fact for the Heat was Jimmy Butler seeming to tweak his ankle in the last minute of the first half. He set the pace for the Heat with 16 points. He didn’t get a lot of help from anyone else.
Anthony Davis also left the game and headed to the locker room with 12 seconds remaining on the clock. He led the Lakers in the first half with 18 points. LeBron James quietly moved toward another triple-double, as he finished the half with nine points, six rebounds, and seven assists. Their bench contributed 20 points in the first half.
Goran Dragic was missing from the Heat bench to start the second half, and it was doubtful if he were going to return. The Lakers didn’t take their foot off the gas, though, giving themselves a 76-54 lead with 9:01 remaining in the third.
The injury problems continued to worsen for the Heat, with Bam Adebayo looking visibly shaken in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter saw all of the Heat’s key players either sitting down, or getting injuries treated.
James and Davis saw a bit of time in the final quarter, though, as Frank Vogel looked like he didn’t want to take any risks and allow the Heat to try to get back in the game. The Heat did have some good moments in the fourth quarter, and cut the lead to 109-96 at one point, but they weren’t going to come back from that.
Lakers fans will be happy with the 116-98 victory. Davis put up 34 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. James was one assist shy of a triple-double with 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists.
The Heat, on the other hand, will be very concerned about their injuries. Kendrick Nunn did manage to contribute 18 points as Dragic’s replacement, and they’ll hope he can provide big minutes and solid production in Game 2 when called upon.