The Miami Heat came into Game 2 of the NBA Finals without two of their best players, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic. And unlike the blowout nature of the first game, Miami fought and remained within striking distance for most of the night. But Anthony Davis and LeBron James simply were too much for the Heat, and the Los Angeles Lakers grabbed a 2-0 lead after a 124-114 victory.
It seemed like Miami’s chance came after Jimmy Butler — who played an amazing game — rose for a powerful dunk with 9:23 left to go.
The Heat were within 101-111, and the Lakers didn’t score again until the 5:58 mark. In fact, 6-foot-2 Kendrick Nunn made a huge block on an Anthony Davis layup attempt over that period.
What an incredible block by Nunn on AD pic.twitter.com/9hQZhSuGdb— Joseph Beguiristain (@JoeBeguiristain) October 3, 2020
But Miami also didn’t score over that stretch, blowing an opportunity to make up ground. After both teams traded baskets, LeBron James made a turnaround jumper with 3:02 left to go to make it 117-104. The Heat never cut more into the deficit.
The Heat ran zone most of the night, and the Lakers went 16-of-47 (34 percent) from 3-point range. But L.A. grabbed 16 offensive boards — half of those courtesy of Anthony Davis. For most of the third quarter, it seemed like either Davis would score or get a tip-in on every Lakers possession. Davis finished with 32 points on 15-of-20 shooting from the field. Without Bam Adebayo, the Heat simply didn’t have enough.
Butler played 44 minutes in Game 2 and finished with 25 points on 11-of-12 shooting from the foul line to go along with 13 assists and eight rebounds. Without Adebayo or Dragic, Butler had all the offensive load on his shoulders, and he performed admirably. Look at how using him as a roller creates this open 3-pointer.
Heat now getting some offensive traction using Butler as the roll man, to take advantage of that switching defense. pic.twitter.com/QJCAfiuehK— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) October 3, 2020
Kelly Olynyk did not start Friday — that went to Meyers Leonard, who only played nine minutes — but the Canadian added 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field and nine rebounds. Miami needed a big game from Olynyk to have a shot in this game, and he played well. This game should convince Erik Spoelstra to avoid going small for the rest of this series — as he did in Game 1 and for the last few games of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Herro, who made history as the youngest player to ever start an NBA Finals game, added 17 points. Nunn chipped in 13 off the bench and again looked comfortable in the Heat offense, a marked improvement from how he’s performed up until the Finals. Without Dragic, the Heat have no choice but to expect big games from two rookies.
One player who has struggled mightily this series? Duncan Robinson, who went 2-for-7 from downtown and was a -21 in his 21 minutes. When the Heat don’t have Adebayo or Dragic, Miami can’t afford a no-show from Robinson. To their credit, the Lakers fought over screens well and forced Robinson into some shots without much space.
Game 3 will be Sunday at 7:30 p.m.