The basketball world had virtually given up on the Miami Heat against the Los Angeles Lakers. Two of their top three scorers, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic, got hurt, and heading into Monday, the team had fallen into a 0-2 series deficit.
The Heat are indeed pretty banged up, but they are still alive. They pulled out a strong, gritty 115-104 win in Game 3 to make it a series, and got some momentum back their way.
All-Star Jimmy Butler put on a show for the South Beach boys as he logged a monster stat line: 40 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. It was his first playoff triple-double and it’s an instant postseason classic for the Heat, and maybe the entire history of the finals.
Check out Butler’s story why he taunted LeBron James after icing Game 3:
While Butler was certainly phenomenal, it should be noted what we’re witnessing is due to the Heat having a deep roster. The team can be efficiently play 12-deep in their rotation if they wanted to, and there’s not a lot of squads that are able to do that.
The solid depth is evident in still being within striking distance despite not having Adebayo and Dragic on deck. Almost any other team that gets depleted by two of their primary scorers and playmakers would likely fold.
With the key absences, a bevy of shooters are ready to step in and provide damage, which they’ve done over the last two games. In Game 3, Tyler Herro, Kelly Olynyk, and Jae Crowder gave an ample scoring support for Butler, combining for 46 points and seven timely three-pointers.
Duncan Robinson was only 3-for-10 from beyond the arc but his efficiency showed in the advanced stats as he compiled a +27 plus-minus. He also made a huge three toward the end of the game.
What makes it more interesting is Andre Iguodala (2 pts, 1/2 FGs) and Kendrick Nunn (4 pts, 2/3 FGS) both had relatively quiet nights on offense. Iggy showcased his defensive presence more and became a facilitator.
How did they compare to the Lakers’ role players?
They did better, obviously, but the key part is they further proved that numbers can lie. The Lakers had 53 bench points (19 apiece from Markieff Morris and Kyle Kuzma), and it hid the horrendous stretches that two Laker starters had. Look away, Laker fans, although I’m sure you’re well aware of these: Danny Green (5/23) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (8/29) are now a combined 13-for-52 in the finals.
Let’s close this one out with two factors: the Heat defense took Anthony Davis out of the game by limiting him to just nine shots, which then forced James to feed other teammates and keep him out of rhythm.
The Lakers will definitely be bringing the heat for Game 4, and their two superstars will be gunning for redemption. They’re more than capable of that, so the Heat will be hoping that they can again rely on their deep bench to make up for the loss of Adebayo and Dragic. If they can, then they’ll at least have a shot at tying the series.