Home / Sport / LeBron James and Lakers take the 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals: These three sequences show how close Miami was to the tie streak

LeBron James and Lakers take the 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals: These three sequences show how close Miami was to the tie streak



The Miami Heat fell to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday 102-96 in the 4th game of the NBA Finals, and are now late in the 3-1 series, but not for lack of commitment. Miami played its proverbial heart. They were masterful in defense, both in terms of effort and execution.

The Heat fought LeBron James and Anthony Davis before the capture and doubled hard, and sometimes late, after the capture. They recovered from the doubles and the challenged shots. They remained for the most part in front of the penetrators. They communicated to the switches and held their spot in the standings despite some timely offensive rebounds and second and third chance points for the Lakers who were quite deflationary.

Offensively, the Heat didn̵

7;t fire well enough over the arc (11 out of 32). Once the Lakers started going under Jimmy Butler’s ball screens, the Heat had a lot of trouble getting into the paint with enough leverage to create kick-out shooting opportunities, and Davis, in addition to taking challenge one against one guard Butler, he protected the edge like a maniac when Miami walked in there. Eventually, the Heat swam upstream for most of the second half and gasped. A courageous effort, no doubt.

That said, there are no moral wins in the NBA Finals and Miami had this game in its sights. A manager will always tell you that a defeat never comes down to one play or possession, or even a few plays or possessions, but that’s not exactly true. Yes, a lot of things happen in a 48-minute basketball game, many of which we just discussed in the first three paragraphs.

But the bottom line is that after all the dust has settled, the edge in many of these games is razor thin. A couple of points here or there can be, and often are, the difference. In Game 4, there were three sequences in particular that shot in the wrong direction for the Heat, who might very well have been able to win this match and draw the series if those few seconds – literally – went differently.

1. Disaster at the end of the third quarter

Miami had the ball down by three, with the clock off, as the third quarter ended. In this situation, above all, be sure to take the last shot. If you connect to the shot, you will be down or tied. If you get it wrong, go into the fourth quarter, at worst, still down by three. In any case, the Lakers should not have another chance to score, under any circumstances, before the third quarter buzzer sounds. Instead, this happens:

So let’s go further: rather than crashing the time, the Heat are pressing their luck since the start of this possession, passing the ball all over the court, risking a turnover or a crazy shot. Perhaps that can be justified by the fact that, for a moment, they had a 5-on-4 lead as Davis fell behind after falling on his previous shot attempt. But once nothing materialized, Miami should have pulled the ball out and taken the last shot. Instead, Herro ran out of a screen and fired a tough, contested 3-pointer with eight seconds still on the clock.

Herro missed, and then Bam Adebayo recklessly bumped into Davis trying to get an offensive rebound he would never get. Davis is knocked to the ground. The Lakers are in the bonus. Davis makes the two free throws, and suddenly Miami goes from being tied if that shot from Herro goes down by five as the fourth quarter enters. This is a huge swing, particularly at that time in the game.

The following clip shows what was arguably the worst offensive possession in the Lakers game, and they came out with three points. First, Kendrick Nunn interrupts Rajon Rondo’s drive, then Jimmy Butler interrupts LeBron, forcing a passed out from the baseline. Alex Caruso picks it up and goes in a pick and roll, which Miami controls easily, and Caruso’s pass bounces off Markieff Morris.

The shot clock is now running out and Morris must enter a 3-point one-on-one pull-up with less than three seconds on the shot clock. It’s an incredibly low percentage shot, and I’m damned if Olynyk doesn’t take the bait with a desperate faux pump and saves Morris by encrusting him in a 3-point attempt.

You can see the time and score here. There are less than 10 minutes to go and the Heat will likely go from down one – as Morris probably misses that shot – to down four when he sinks all three free throws. Don’t get me started on what a bogus rule is that a shooter can completely manipulate his movement to jump into the defender and be rewarded for it, but those are the rules. Olynyk knows the rules. And this was a serious mistake. And another crucial three-point swing.

3. Butler is wrong, KCP does

No one did anything wrong in this final sequence, but it was no less a giant swing. You hear the phrase “make or lose championship” and this is what it means. On the one hand, the Heat are down by two and have a shot to take the lead over Butler’s triple with three minutes of play. Butler misses and, on the other side, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scores a triple from the corner that brings the Lakers to four.

You can see the Lakers conceding that shot to Butler, whose inability to shoot from 3 points away, no matter how much he’s playing, is becoming an issue as this series goes on. But Butler feels this is a pivotal time for Miami, and he’s right. So he goes against his normal shooting discipline – or hesitation, if you prefer that classification – and shoots the 3-pointer, and if he does and the Heat takes the lead with three minutes of play, this is a very different game along the way. . Instead, he gets it wrong, KCP hits and we go to Miami on one to five. This is another six point swing.

Run the numbers in the first two sequences – the late-third swing and Olynyk’s foul – and the Lakers earned, at a minimum, five points they absolutely shouldn’t have scored. This final sequence was another six-point swing in the direction of the Lakers. All in all, it’s an 11 point swing. The Heat lost by six. Do the math.




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