Everyone thought it would be a blowout. It turned out to be closer than expected. But the results are all that really matter in the end and behind the unstoppable duo of Anthony Davis and LeBron James in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, the Lakers are two wins away from a title.
Davis and James put up monster numbers Friday to give Los Angeles a 124-114 victory and a 2-0 series lead over the severely undermanned Heat that made it a much more competitive contest compared to Game 1. But once again the Lakers’ dynamic duo was sensational and dominant, combining for 65 points—33 for LeBron, 32 for AD. And while the Heat put up a hell of a better fight after that debacle of a Game 1, their best efforts weren’t nearly enough to give the Lakers a serious scare.
Or change anyone's opinion that Miami might need a miracle to avoid a sweep.
Missing the services of starters Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo—two of Miami’s most indispensable players who suffered injuries in Game 1—the Heat did manage to put up a blistering 39 points in the third quarter to keep the game close enough to prevent a second straight Lakers rout. But not having Dragic and Adebayo only exacerbated the Heat’s issues from Game 1—they once again struggled to handle LA’s superior size, watched the Lakers do their best Houston Rockets impression by launching a Finals record 47 3-pointers (LA hit 16 of ‘em), and saw their 2-3 zone defense fall flat against the relentless LA offense.
Game 3 is Sunday and at this point it looks like the only thing preventing the Lakers from securing the franchise’s 17th championship would be an asteroid hitting Earth. We know Miami can’t hang with LA—especially when the Lakers are hitting enough of their outside shots and their superstars are cooking—and the odds that Heat could win four of the next five games to pull off the monumental upset are beyond astronomical.
The Lakers improved to 20-1 this season when James and Davis combine for 60 points or more. "Those two were huge tonight and a big reason for the win," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. While we can argue who should be the frontrunner for Finals MVP honors— James messed around and almost had another triple-double, falling one rebound and assist short—there’s no denying that Davis has been scintillating in the paint for the Lakers after he hit 15-of-20 attempts Friday.
LA’s size and physicality overwhelmed Miami—the Lakers started three guys basically 7’ or taller (Davis, Dwight Howard, and LeBron because he’s a lot closer to 7’ than he is his listed 6’9”)—and subsequently Miami was out-rebounded and out-muscled. Adebayo’s absence on both ends of the floor was glaring and the Heat better hope he can magically return to the lineup Sunday if the series is extended past Game 4 scheduled for Tuesday.
"In those moments of truth when we had opportunities to get the game closer, it usually seemed to end up in some kind of offensive rebound or something near the basket," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "But this is the deal and if you want something badly enough, you'll figure out how to overcome it. They have great size and Anthony Davis is an elite player. We're trying to get something accomplished and you just have to go to another level. That's the bottom line."
Jimmy Butler, playing on a bum ankle, was the Heat's leading scorer, pouring in 25 points, 13 assists, and 8 boards over nearly 45 minutes—he appropriately earned big praise from Spoelstra—while Kelly Olynyk had 24 coming off the bench, but the Heat needed more big bodies and firepower. The Lakers bench was superior with Rajon Rondo morphing into Playoff Rondo again, hitting 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and finishing with 16 points and 10 assists. Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope each added 11.
Here are six more observations from Game 2.