By Nathan Tucker
In Game Three of the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat stymied a potent Lakers offense to win their first game of the series. Game Four’s plan was more of the same, but without Jimmy Butler scoring 40 for Miami, they fell short, 102-96.
The Lakers were, unsurprisingly, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis. James scored 28 and hauled in twelve rebounds, Davis scored 22 and contributed four blocks on the defensive end.
Anthony Davis hit a crucial three pointer with thirty seconds to go to put the game away for the Lakers. Miami’s inability to slow down Davis has been their downfall in this series.
Even with the return of Bam Adebayo in the paint for Miami, Davis was still able to shoot 50% on the evening. Without Adebayo, AD ran roughshod on a Miami Heat defense that didn’t have the skill to slow him down.
Notably, the Heat are missing the presence of Goran Dragic on the floor. A volume scorer who adds a different threat than any fill-in point guard for Miami, Dragic’s impact hasn’t been replicated by the combination of Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn.
The Heat hung tight in Game Four, but never had the quick bursts of points that have propelled them to wins in series past. Goran Dragic is often the creator of those quick scoring bursts, driving to the basket and scoring quick layups in transition.
Without those points, the Heat require heroic efforts from elsewhere on the floor, notably Jimmy Butler. In Game Four he scored 22 points with 10 rebounds, was an assist short of a triple-double, and the Heat still lost.
Miami will look to put all the pieces together and save their championship hopes on Thursday.