Happy Monday, everyone! I know these usually come out earlier in the morning, but sometimes life just happens, so we’re enjoying our Monday cup of coffee together in the afternoon this week. Don’t lie, I know each and every one of you is on your third cup of the day. That post-lunch coffee is as important to getting through the work day as waking up in the morning.
Jimmy Butler is the first player to outscore, outrebound and out-assist LeBron James in a Finals game, including LeBron's teammates. Via Elias.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) October 5, 2020
It’s hard to overstate just how amazing Butler was last night. Every time the Heat needed a bucket, he provided it. I still find it unlikely this is much of a series moving forward, but that performance last night said everything about who Jimmy Butler is as a basketball player.
On the flip side, what an embarrassing performance for the Lakers, and primarily for their two superstars. LeBron James’ stat line looks a little better than Anthony Davis’ does, but neither of them were nearly good enough last night.
Davis looked confused and frustrated against the Miami double teams all night, and he seemed out of rhythm all game following early foul trouble. Davis attempted one (1) field goal in the fourth quarter, which is simply inexcusable. Davis was so bad last night that it will likely cost him Finals MVP.
That isn’t to say that James is totally off the hook either. He turned the ball over nine times last night. That is so, so sloppy. His play sets the tone for the entire team. While he looked engaged at times, he seemed to be coasting a bit, almost like it was just another regular season game. Maybe he was just tired, but that’s not a good sign either. He made little effort to fight through screens in the fourth quarter, which was a real killer since Butler was cooking EVERYONE after the switch. LeBron took the challenge of fighting through hand-offs and screens against Jamal Murray. He needs to do that again on Butler.
Now down just one game, Miami seemingly has more good news on the horizon.
Take what you will of it, but Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo scheduled to speak with reporters at media availability today.— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) October 5, 2020
This could be nothing, but traditionally, the Heat don’t have injured players meet with the media.
The Lakers underestimated their opponent last night, and there are adjustments to be made. J.R. Smith probably shouldn’t play, and if Danny Green is going to be hesitant to shoot from three, it makes the LeBron-DG two-man game much less strenuous on Duncan Robinson and Jimmy Butler. Miami playing Green as a non-shooter is a problem for the Lakers.
On a grander scale, the Lakers are fine. They’re still up 2-1, and still have the two best players in this series. Even if Adebayo or Dragic (much less likely) are able to come back, they’ll be at less than 100%. They must take Game 4 more seriously than they took Game 3. That was a pathetic effort last night from their superstars. The most likely scenario still seems like Lakers in 5, but only if LeBron and the Lakers play with more energy moving forward. Knowing what we know about James, I’d expect that’s exactly what will happen, especially after receiving a little extra bulletin board material from Butler.