Monumental Davis erupts to defy a gallant Miami: Game 2 Observations
Anthony Davis has shined in one of the great NBA Finals performances to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 2–0 advantage over the Miami Heat. Despite the courageous efforts from an injury-savaged Miami Heat squad, Davis and LeBron James dominated the Miami defenders to run out comfortable 10-point winners in game two (124–114). All eyes now turn to game three on Sunday to see if Miami can regain their stars and claw their way back into this series.
Usually when you look at the box score after a game, you’re not seeing the entire picture of how the team and each player had performed. But sometimes stats truly don’t lie and can paint an accurate picture of one player’s dominance. In game two of the NBA Finals, there was a linear relationship seen between the distance of the drop in a person’s jaw as they analysed Anthony Davis’ stats. As each column of Anthony Davis’ box score was analysed that person’s jaw dropped a further centimetre.
In an incredible individual NBA Finals performance, Anthony Davis again dominated a short-handed Miami Heat to propel the Lakers to a commanding 2–0 lead. Davis was simply outrageous, compiling 32-points, 14-rebounds on 75% (11/15 from the floor) Oh yeah and AD had more offensive rebounds (8) than defensive rebounds….. Unfortunately these stats don’t reveal how dominate Davis was, particularly in the third quarter. After half-time AD went on an offensive tear, scoring 9-points in 5-minutes to register a 15-point quarter, where he missed one shot (7/8). This was truly a historic game for Anthony Davis.
The performance of AD should not overshadow LeBron James in this game. LeBron was at his all-round best, pacing the Lakers for 33-points, 9-rebounds 9-assists and 0-turnovers in a comprehensive performance from the best player in the NBA. The Lakers offense in this game reached new heights, attaining the record for the most three-point attempts taken by a team in the NBA Finals (47). Helped with the predominately zone-based defensive structure from the Heat, the Lakers continued to hoist up the three-ball with unlikely efficiency from Rajon Rondo (3/4 3PT — 75%). Rondo was stellar off the bench for the Lakers with 16-points, 4-rebounds and 10-assists in a dominant display from the veteran.
Despite the all-round dominance from the Lakers in this game, they only defeated Miami by 10-points. In a testament to the grit of the Eastern Conference Champions, Miami won the second half by 4-points, despite the absence of Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic. Closing the deficit from 18-points in the third quarter, the Heat got as close as 3-possessions deep in the fourth quarter and had their chances down the stretch to push within two baskets of the Lakers. Despite the limited success of the Heat zone in the first half, the Heat managed to compile consistent stops in the fourth on the defensive end to continue to keep themselves in the game. Led by the do-it-all performance of Jimmy Butler (25–points, 8-rebounds, 13-assists), Miami battled and grinded hard, particularly in the second half, but ultimately fell short of a monumental victory. The Heat depth chart was expected to be tested and the stellar performances from Kelly Olynyk (24-points, 9-rebounds, 2-assists), Tyler Herro (17-points, 7-rebounds and 3-assists) and Kendrick Nunn (13-points, 4-rebounds, 3-assists) proved that this Heat team have a tonne of heart in the face of adversity.
Game three will be loaded with speculation surrounding the fitness of Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic, but as it stands, the Heat still have a mountain to climb.
Here are my observations from game two.
1. Lakers Offense
In the first half of game one, the Lakers were shooting a ridiculous percentage from behind the arc (56%). I think we all know that no team can consistently keep up that sort of clip from downtown.
In the first half of game one, the Lakers three-point shooting came back to Earth. Despite setting the NBA finals record for most three point attempts in a half, Los Angeles shot 9/27 (33%) from three-point land. This clip is by no means terrible, but still a sharp contrast from game one. It’s important to note that with the Heat largely playing zone in the first half, there was ample opportunity for the three point shot, particularly on the wings.
In the first half the Lakers did most of their damage from within the paint. 30 of the 68-points came inside the key. Early contributions from Dwight Howard (6-points, 3/3 FGs) was a boost to the offense, whilst Anthony Davis was scarily efficient to pace the Lakers (15-points, 4-rebounds — 7/8 FGs @ 88%).
LeBron was LeBron in the first half. Conducting the offense when required to notch 12-points, 4-rebounds and 6-assists.
Rajon Rondo was big off the bench for the Lakers. Penetrating the paint but also delivering the ball on a dime for the Lakers stars. 9-points and 4-assists for the savvy veteran. Kyle Kuzma also provided solid production (8-points) in the first half.
2. Heat Zone
The Heat missed Bam Adebayo. (How obvious of a statement is that?) Obviously for the offensive production, but really on the defensive side of the ball.
The Heat leaked 68-points in the first half. 68-points.. The Lakers only shot 33% from three point land. Geesh.
The Heat got within five during the middle stages of the second quarter and the zone was showing some decent signs of production. But some offensive coordinating from Rondo soon picked up the scoring pace and again the Heat were chasing their heels. The Heat zone was largely torched again.
3. Jimmy Butler
Jimmy knew he needed to pick up the slack and he did that tonight in the first half. Questions could be asked about his offensive aggression during the first half, but he still topped the Heat with the most shot attempts (7) and went to the free throw line 8-times. His efficiency however is probably what he would have liked to improve (2/7 — FGs)
Butler did everything else though for Miami, racking a 11-point, 5-rebound, 8-assist half..
The Heat actually scored well on the offensive end. 54-points for the first half against the Lakers is pretty solid. Especially for a team missing two of their most important players. If Miami had some more favourable match ups or increased activity within the zone, this may have been a much closer half.
Erik Spoelstra still saw an impressive array of scoring contribution from his group with some nice numbers outside of Butler.
Crowder (9-points), Herro (9-points), Olynyk (7-points), Nunn (7-points) and Robinson (6-points) all provided some offensive scoring for Miami in the first half.
Whilst Duncan Robinson scored 6-points, his lack of production on offense has been an issue in this series. The Lakers have smothered Duncan in the man to man and have been exemplary in their switching around the former Div III product. Robinson hit his first field goal for the series with 40 seconds left in the first half.
1. Anthony Davis & LeBron
Anthony Davis had a classic NBA finals game. Make no mistake, bubble or no bubble, AD had a memorable night. His third quarter in particular was quite extraordinary.
After scoring 9-points in the first 5-minutes, AD finished the third quarter with 15-points and 5-rebounds. Davis missed one shot in whole quarter (7/8). One shot…
Whilst AD was quiet in the fourth(2-points), the damage was already done for the Heat. What’s even more staggering is that he grabbed more offensive rebounds (8-rebounds) than defensive rebounds (6-rebounds)..
Anthony Davis finished his remarkable game with 32-points, 14-rebounds on 75% shooting. He made 15 out of 20 shots.. Unbelievable.
Oh and LeBron was pretty good too. 33-points, 9-rebounds, 9-assists… What else do I need to say about him?
2. Heat Grit
You have to give credit to this Heat team. They had an opportunity to win this game tonight, despite the injuries to Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic. Yes you read that correctly. The Heat had an opportunity to win this game in the second half.
The Heat kept pulling themselves off the canvas to keep in touching distance of the Lakers. Despite Anthony Davis’ phenomenal third quarter, the Heat actually outscored the Lakers in the third(39–35). In fact the Heat won the second half by 4-points.. Despite being down by as many as 18-points in the third quarter, the Heat got continuous stops down the stretch in the fourth, but simply couldn’t reduce the Laker margin on the offensive end.
Outside of the all-round performance from Jimmy Butler (25-points, 8-rebounds, 13-assists), the Heat got some great production from their supporting cast.
Kelly Olynyk — 24-points, 9-rebounds, 56% from the floor. This was a stellar game from Olynyk. The Heat needed some production from their forwards and Olynyk was always going to be the man to provide it. His offensive smarts, his ability to finish around the rim and from deep were vital for the Heat in this game.
Kendrick Nunn — 13-points, 4-rebounds, 3-assists. It’s been a tumultuous rollercoaster for Kendrick Nunn in his first season in the NBA. The undrafted, All-Rookie First Team member had previously struggled in the bubble. After his production in game one, Nunn again provided much needed offense for Miami in game two. A skilled finisher at the rim, Nunn looked polished off the dribble and even had a spectacular block on Anthony Davis. Nunn is slowly starting to recapture that form that had seen him elected as a three-time Eastern Conference Player of the Month.
Tyler Herro — 17-points, 7-rebounds, 3-assists. Tyler Herro looks to be a future star of this league. The ever confident rookie continues to produce game after game in these playoffs. Starting in place of Goran Dragic, Herro again provided Miami with scoring production and hustle on the boards.
3. Heat Offense down the stretch
Miami found some continuity on the defensive end in the middle to latter stages of the fourth quarter. Down only 8–10-points, the Heat managed to get themselves some stops before going on the attack. The problem for the Heat was that they couldn’t string baskets together. The offense lacked potency and direction down the stretch, which often led to contested jump shots late in the shot clock. A less deliberate half-court offense with faster action may have seen the Lakers become a touch nervous.
You cannot begrudge the Heat’s effort from their reserve players in the rotation, but make no mistake, the Heat had a chance late in this game. Olynyk took the most shots in the final 7-minutes of the game for Miami (5-shots), whilst Butler went 1/3 from the field. Tyler Herro didn’t take a shot.
4. Lakers supporting cast
Rajon Rondo had a stellar game in tonight’s matchup. Not only was Rondo doing what he does best (assisting), he was potent in the scoring column. 16-points on 56% shooting, whilst dishing 10-dimes and picking up 4-rebounds. Timely threes from Rondo (who would have thought) helped to offset the shooting struggles from Green and Caldwell-Pope. For a bench guard in the Finals, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Danny Green (3-points, 1/8 3PT) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (11-points, 2/11 FGs) struggled shooting the ball tonight for Los Angeles. A combined 3–13 from beyond the arc helped to keep Miami in the ball game. The majority of those shots were good looks too.
5. Stats that matter
The Lakers shot a finals record, 47-three point attempts from the floor. That is insane. The nature of the Heat zone naturally allows such attempts to be made but even still that’s a lot of shots from behind the arc. Whilst the clip wasn’t as high as game one, 34% from 47-attempts is quite respectable for the Lakers.
The Lakers shot the ball 26 more times than Miami did in this game (97–71). The Heat only lost by 10… This stat is obviously counterbalanced with the Heat shooting double the amount of free throws compared to the Lakers (17 vs 34-FT attempts).
Los Angeles also grabbed more offensive rebounds than the Heat.. 16-offensive rebounds for the Lakers was the back-breaker for Miami late in this game. That’s 16-extra offensive possessions for a team that only won by 10-points. Obviously playing in zone makes it harder to rebound for Miami but that’s still way too high.
Game Three Thoughts
- The Heat need Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic back. You’d have to think being down 2–0 that they will play in some capacity. It’s boom or bust right now.
- The Heat need Duncan Robinson to fire. At the moment Robinson looks rushed on his shot which is a credit to the smother and switches on him from the Lakers. He is an integral part of the offense who needs to get going if the Heat are any chance.
- Bam or not Bam, expect to see more of Kelly Olynyk. Olynyk was stellar. He is solid offensively and can finish at the rim. Could we even see two big men on the floor for the Heat in game three?
- The Lakers to continue to do what their doing. I don’t think the Lakers would have been too thrilled with their fourth quarter. 21-points in the last was a real holt in the offense for this team. Outside of James and Davis and Rondo the supporting cast wasn’t as potent as they would have liked.
- Defensive adjustments for Miami. The zone was decimated in the first half but had it’s moments in the fourth quarter. What will Coach Spo do to tinker with this defensive scheme? Is Derrick Jones Jr. officially out of the rotation?
Thank you for entertaining my thoughts of game two! Hopefully I made some sense and provided insight into the game.
Please follow me or check out some of my other articles before game three. Hopefully I’ll get lucky with my insights.