Prior to tip-off for Game 2 of the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat were officially served a major blow to both their starting lineup and their hopes of hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy at the conclusion of the playoffs. Both Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic were ruled out of the contest due to a shoulder injury to Bam and a plantar tear of the left foot for Dragic. These were injuries sustained during the Lakers demolition of the Heat in Game 1 of the NBA finals and are very crucial in the outcome of this series. Dragic led the Heat in scoring during the first round of the playoffs against the Indiana Pacers and Bam led the team in scoring during the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. The Lakers know they have the Heat right where they want them, and contrary to their lukewarm start to Game 1, they would need to come out of the gates with high-octane offense and defense to both decide the game early and disallow Miami from gaining any sort of momentum.
The game started off with both teams flexing their offensive muscles as the Heat knocked down two threes thanks to their two new starters, Tyler Herro and Meyers Leonard, and the Lakers were all over the paint with guys like Dwight Howard and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope getting easy field goals. Eventually, it was the Lakers who broke free from the early back-and-forth with an 8-0 run to force a timeout from Eric Spoelstra with 7:34 left in the first quarter. Consecutive three pointers from LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma pushed the Lakers into a 20-14 lead with 5 minutes left in the quarter as the Lakers seemed to finally establish rhythm from downtown after starting 0-5 from the three point line. The Lakers were able to use this boost to take an early 29-23 lead to end the game’s first 12 minutes.
The Lakers picked up where they left off and continued to pour in three pointers early thanks to LeBron James and Alex Caruso. With three and a half minutes played in the second quarter, the Lakers were able to jump to the games largest lead thus far when they went up 40-27 after a Danny Green three pointer. The Heat did show many signs of resilience despite playing with a depleted side. With four and a half minutes remaining in the first half, a Jae Crowder layup cut the Lakers lead to 47-43 as the boys from South Beach seemed to have gained a lot of confidence in their play. It seems like a common theme between these two teams involves the Lakers ripping out any hope from the Heat as the Lakers stampeded to a 68-54 halftime lead behind 15 points from Anthony Davis and 9 points and 4 assists from Rajon Rondo off the bench. The Lakers in transition were absolutely clinical as they went 17-20 from two point field goals which is a mind-boggling stat to read. If any team can keep up that type of efficiency, that team would never lose a game.
Anthony Davis was absolutely feeling it to start the second half. With just three minutes played, Davis scored 7 points to bring his total up to 22 points on 10-11 shooting from the field. Davis went ahead on the following possession and put in a difficult floating layup over two Heat defenders and LeBron James converted an and-1 in the next possession for the Lakers to force Miami into taking another timeout with the game score up to 82-64. To put this into more perspective, the Lakers missed their first field goal of the second half at the 5:50 mark when KCP missed a three pointer that was put back in for a ferocious dunk from Anthony Davis. Anthony Davis was living in the paint by getting offensive rebounds and putback dunks with ease. His game total rose to 30 points and 7 rebounds (4 offensive rebounds) but despite this dominating performance, the Heat found a way to stay in the game as their deficit was 13 points with just under four minutes left in the third quarter. The Heat did find luck defensively as the Lakers simply did not make their shots and didn’t take advantage of their second efforts as they ended the third quarter with just a 10 point deficit in their way of making this series 1-1.
The Heat were able to use the zone defense during the fourth quarter to keep the lead at 10 for Los Angeles as the Lakers were again incapable of taking advantage of wide-open three pointers and second chance efforts. The remainder of the fourth quarter was honestly boring. The zone defense continued to work decently for the Heat, but Miami were doing no favors for themselves on the offensive end. The game finished with the Lakers having 16 offensive rebounds compared to the 6 Miami had as that would prove to be the difference maker down the stretch when Anthony Davis went on his own run. The Lakers won the game 124-114 as Anthony Davis and LeBron James combined for 65 points and 23 rebounds to take a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals. The Lakers and Heat square off for Game 3 on Sunday, October 4th at 4:30pm.