Octobers are usually reserved for the Fall Classic, but this is a strange NBA season that’s being played in the weirdest year in recent memory.
The Los Angeles Lakers are heavily favored and can become the new NBA champions this weekend with a win in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Don’t write off Jimmy Butler and the Heat just yet, because as long as they are alive, this team is always going to be dangerous.
Catch this Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals live on October 10 at 9 AM, Manila time.
HOME TEAM: #1 Los Angeles Lakers (3-1)
The Lakers got the win in Game 4 and nearly covered the spread if it were not for a meaningless 3-pointer by Tyler Herro near the end of the contest.
LeBron James started slowly with just six points in the first half before pouring it on in the final two periods. He ended up with 28 points, 12, rebounds, and eight assists. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis found a way to score 22 points despite Bam Adebayo’s return.
But if you’re looking for an unlikely hero for the Lakers, it’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who did not give Twitter trolls new materials, as he scored 15 points and added five assists. Again, Caldwell-Pope is not someone the Lakers can expect to keep churning out that kind of performance, so they can only hope that he’ll still be feeling it on Saturday.
Game 4 felt it was stuck in the mud, partly because the Lakers, James in particular, kept turning the ball over. James had five turnovers in the first half, but when he got it together in the second half, he threw the ball away just once.
The Lakers have to dictate the pace and stop shooting themselves in the foot with silly, unforced errors, which give the Heat extra opportunities to score.
Expect the Lakers to continue getting Davis to guard Jimmy Butler lots of times in Game 5, as that tactic worked wonders for them with some help from Adebayo’s return, which greatly narrowed the space that the Miami shooting guard took advantage of in Game 3.
ROAD TEAM: #5 Miami Heat (1-3)
Adebayo scored 15 points and hauled down seven rebounds in his return from a two-game absence, but it might be time for Miami to make the bold move of taking away some of his minutes and giving it to Spokane legend Kelly Olynyk, who can stretch the floor better, and in turn, give Butler enough space to attack the basket and make plays for outside shooters off the dribble.
That worked in Game 3 and could work again, as that will force Davis to follow a slipping Olynyk instead of bothering Butler with his sheer size and length.
It’s not as easy as it sounds, however. For one, fatigue might be setting in for Butler, who’s playing 41.6 minutes per game in the Finals. The Heat have to make Butler’s gas last for an entire game, and they could do that if guys like Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, and Jae Crowder hit their shots consistently rather than having one great quarter individually.
Also, having Olynyk on the floor than Adebayo further exposes the Heat’s leaky interior defense, though, they did have some success in Game 4 by packing the paint.
The Heat have actually done a better job defending the Lakers in the shaded area of late. After allowing 94 points in the paint in Games 1 and 2, the Heat have given up just 68 in Games 3 and 4.
The Heat are expected to go out in five games, but Jimmy Butler is not letting that happen without wreaking havoc first.
Butler’s aggressiveness will result in another win for the Heat, who’ll have to prepare for another game after defeating the Lakers in Game 5, 108-105.