LeBron James, Lakers take NBA Finals 3-1 lead: These three streaks show how close Miami was to the tie-breaker series


The Miami Heat fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 102-96 in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday, and are now lagging in the series 3-1, but it’s not for lack of effort. Miami has played its proverbial heart. They were masterfully defensive, both in effort and execution.

The Heat faced LeBron James and Anthony Davis before the capture and doubled hard, and sometimes late, after the capture. They recovered from those doubles and contested the shots. Most of them stayed in front of the penetrators. They communicated on the switches and held their own on the boards, despite some opportune offensive rebounds and second and third chance points for the Lakers who were quite deflating.

Offensively, the Heat just didn’t shoot him well enough beyond the arc (11 against 32). Once the Lakers started to sink on Jimmy Butler’s ball screens, the Heat had a hard time getting into the paint with enough leverage to create kick-out shooting opportunities, and Davis, in addition to meet the individual challenge of custody. Butler, protected the rim like a maniac when Miami stepped in there. In the end, the Heat were swimming upstream for most of the second half and were out of breath. A valiant effort, no question.

That said, there aren’t any moral wins in the NBA Finals, and Miami had that game on its mind. A coach will always tell you that a loss never comes down to one game or one possession, or even a few games or possessions, but that is not entirely true. Yes, there’s a lot going on in a 48-minute basketball game, which we just talked about in the first three paragraphs.

But at the end of the day, after all the dust has settled, the headroom in so many of these games is extremely fine. A few points here and there can be, and often are, the difference. In Game 4 there were three streaks in particular that tipped in the wrong direction for the Heat, who might well have been able to win this game and tie the series if those few seconds – literally – happened. differently.

1. Disaster at the end of the third trimester

Miami had the ball by three, with the shot clock stopped, as the third quarter ended. In this situation, above all else, you make sure you take the last shot. If you log in instantly, you will be either down or tied. If you miss you get into the fourth quarter, at worst, still down three. Either way, the Lakers shouldn’t have another shot at scoring, under any circumstances, before the third quarter buzzer sounds. Instead, this happens:

So let’s go over this: Rather than bleeding the clock, the Heat squeeze their luck early in that possession, passing the ball all over the field, risking a wild roll or shot. Perhaps this can be justified by the fact that they had, for a while, a 5-to-4 advantage as Davis trailed 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 came sprinting from a screen and unleashed a tough and contested 3-point with eight seconds left on the clock.

Herro missed, then Bam Adebayo recklessly crashed into Davis trying to get an offensive rebound he would never get. Davis is thrown to the ground. The Lakers are in the bonus. Davis makes both free throws, and suddenly Miami is tied if that Herro shot comes in at five points in the fourth quarter. It’s a huge swing, especially at this point in the game.

The following clip shows what was arguably the Lakers’ worst offensive possession of the game, and they came out with three points. First, Kendrick Nunn cuts Rajon Rondo’s drive, then Jimmy Butler cuts LeBron, forcing a breakout from the baseline. Alex Caruso grabs him and launches into a pick and roll, which Miami easily controls, and Caruso’s pass bounces off Markieff Morris.

The shot clock draws to a close and Morris must embark on an individual 3-point draw with less than three seconds on the shot clock. It’s an insanely low percentage shot, and I’d be damned if Olynyk didn’t take the bait on a desperate dummy and bail Morris out, messing him up on a 3-point attempt.

You can see the time and the score here. We’re under 10 minutes into the game and the Heat will likely drop from a low point – as Morris likely misses that shot – to four minutes when he hits all three free throws. Don’t get me started with the false rule that a shooter can completely manipulate their movement to jump INTO the defender and be rewarded for it, but these are the rules. Olynyk knows the rules. And that was a major mistake. And another crucial three-point swing.

3. Butler misses, KCP does

No one did anything wrong in that final streak, but it was a giant swing nonetheless. You hear the phrase “make or miss the league” and that’s what it means. On one end, the Heat are down two and have a shot to take the lead on a 3-point Butler with three minutes to go. Butler misses, and on the other end, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hits a 3 point out of the corner to put the Lakers in the top four.

You can see the Lakers concede that shot to Butler, whose inability to shoot from a 3-point distance, as well as he plays, becomes a problem as this streak continues. But Butler feels this is a pivotal moment for Miami, and he’s right. So he goes against his normal shooting discipline – or his hesitation, if you prefer this ranking – and pulls the pointer to 3, and if he succeeds and the Heat take the lead with three minutes to go, it’s a very different ball game. over the whole extent. Instead, he misses, KCP hits, and we go from Miami to five. It’s another six point swing.

Run the numbers on the first two strings – the late third quarter swing and Olynyk’s foul – and the Lakers earned, at a minimum, five points they absolutely shouldn’t have scored. That final streak 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. You do the math.


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