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BBNBA: AD and LeBron propel Lakers to 2-0 Finals lead

(Douglas P. DeFelice | NBAE)

(Douglas P. DeFelice | NBAE)

Good afternoon, folks. Tyler Herro became the youngest player in history to start an NBA Finals game. Let’s talk NBA Bubble.


LOS ANGELES LAKERS – 124 MIAMI HEAT – 114 [LAL leads 2-0]

The combined brilliance of Anthony Davis and LeBron James has the Los Angeles Lakers halfway to the franchise’s 17th championship. If you had to ask me to take a vote between which player deserves the honor for Finals MVP, those two would be splitting the award after two games. But against a hampered Miami Heat squad, who were without two of its three best players in Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic, the Lakers couldn’t quite break the game wide open as they did in Game 1. Excellent all-around performances from Tyler Herro and Kelly Olynyk provided key sparks for Miami as they always found a way to keep themselves within striking distance. Albeit, the fear factor isn’t nearly as intimidating with Adebayo and Dragic on the sidelines. From the 8:00 minute mark of the first quarter until the end of the game, the Lakers were in complete control. Here’s how we got there.

Herro got the nod as the starting point guard with Dragic out. Fellow rookie Kendrick Nunn, who was the starting point guard for Miami prior to the NBA’s Restart, came off the bench behind the former Wildcat. Herro became the youngest player in NBA history to start an NBA Finals game (20 years, 256 days), beating out Magic Johnson by just eight days (20 years, 264 days). After a rough showing on defense in Game 1, Herro was slightly improved on that end, but did the bulk of his work on offense. He dropped 17 points on 5-12 shooting while playing a career-high 42 minutes. He added seven rebounds and three assists to his stat line, as well, turning the ball over just twice while shooting a perfect 6-6 from the charity stripe. Olynyk posted 24 points off the bench for Miami.

Coming into Game 2, one of my keys for Miami was Jimmy Butler putting his head down and playing in all-out-attack mode. While he did finish his night with a wild line of 25 points, eight rebounds, and 13 assists on an 11-12 clip from the free-throw line, he was just 7-17 from the field and appeared to play with a pass-first mindset for most of the night instead of a score-first mentality.

Miami was actually performing extremely well on the offensive end from start to finish. They dropped 31 points and 39 points in the second and third quarters, respectively, while shooting over 50 percent from the floor all night long, 11-27 from deep, and an insanely impressive 31-34 from the free-throw line. They weren’t outrebounded by double-digits as they were in Game 1 and assisted on over 80 percent of the team’s made buckets. Miami had 93 points on the scoreboard after three quarters. The only issue? The Lakers had 103. The Heat zone did them no favors at all in Game 2.

Without Adebayo patrolling the backline of the Miami defense, Anthony Davis and the Lakers were feasting in the middle of the zone. Olynyk and Meyers Leonard (who received the start in place of Adebayo despite playing just eight minutes in the playoffs thus far) were absolutely no contest in the paint for The Brow. The passing prowess of LeBron James had the L.A. offense whipping the ball around the arc faster than Miami could recover. The Lakers often plopped AD or Rajon Rondo in the open space of the Miami zone, located right around the nail, and whenever they were fed the ball, the Lakers almost always turned the possession into points. Davis, in particular, could not be slowed down. He started the game missing just one of his first 14 shots attempts–almost exclusively coming at the rim–before finishing on a 15-20 clip for 32 points to go along with his 14 rebounds.

But even if Davis wasn’t attacking, his teammates were placed perfectly around the perimeter, anticipating a kick-out pass. The Lakers attempted an NBA Finals high 47 (FOURTY-SEVEN) three-point shots, connecting on 16 of them for a 34 percent mark. Even Rondo was joining in on the long-range fun. The one-time ‘Cat recorded 16 points, four rebounds, and 10 assists while shooting 5-9 overall and an unexpected 3-4 mark from beyond the arc. He became the second player since 1990 (Manu Ginobili) to post at least 16 points and eight assists off the bench in a Finals game. Rondo also moves to No. 6 all-time on the career playoff assists list, passing Larry Bird on Friday night with 1,067.

Late in the fourth quarter, Miami was able to trim the lead down to as little as nine points with just under three minutes left in regulation, but a couple of timely buckets from Davis and LeBron pushed the Lakers to the 10-point win and a 2-0 series lead. Those two are the first Laker teammates since Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal back in 2002 to both record at least 32 points in a Finals game. Through two games in this series, here are the averages from those two:

Davis: 33.0 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 3.0 assists on shooting splits of 63.4/60.0/100.0
LeBron: 29.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 9.0 assists on shooting splits of 54.8/41.7/63.6

Seriously, just split the Finals MVP award right down the middle.

Before tipoff, Adebayo reportedly had to beg the Heat coaching and medical staff to list him as active. Not so he could come in the game, but so he could cheer and encourage his teammates from the sidelines without having to wear a mask. Just give him the keys to the city, already.

Neither Adebayo nor Dragic have been ruled out of Sunday’s Game 3. Miami will surely need them.


PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Anthony Davis (LAL)124-114 W vs. MIA3215-20 (1-1)141103+1039
Tyler Herro (MIA)114-124 L @ LAL175-12 (1-3)73002-142
Rajon Rondo (LAL)124-114 W vs. MIA165-9 (3-4)410001+726
Bam Adebayo (MIA)114-124 L @ LALDNP-Neck strain----------------

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Recruiting reporter for KSR. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR