Lakers 116 Heat 98

Lake Show up 1.

Jim Rome
October 01, 2020 - 9:14 am
Anthony Davis and LeBron James

USA Today

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After a season unlike any other, after the months-long hiatus and nearly three months in the bubble, the NBA Finals are finally here. And if you’re like me, there was only one thing you wanted to say before tip-off.

Hell yes. Let’s do this. LeBron, AD, and the Carushow vs. James Buckets, Bam, and Goran. Let’s get it on. And Miami showed up. They showed the hell up.

The game was tied at ten with just over eight minutes left in the first and then Miami went on a run. They were doing whatever they wanted. Get to the bucket? Sure. Hit from deep? No problem. And the Lakers were a mess. Missed shots, offensive fouls, goaltending, turnovers, you name it, LA was doing it. This is why you can’t sleep on the Heat. They’re always ready. And, as always, they weren’t just there to take part, they were there to take over. That’s just part of the famous Heat culture baby! And the whole country was seeing it in real time.

When the run was 6-0, Frank Vogel called a timeout. And things didn’t get better. Butler had a layup and another bucket. And then Jae Crowder hit a 3 to make it a 13-0 run.

The Lakers’ worst nightmare was materializing…the Heat weren’t’ intimidated; the stage wasn’t too big: they were imposing their will on the heavily favored Lakers, dictating the situation. So Vogel had to burn another timeout.

And Laker fans, you can’t tell me that you weren’t sweating it at that point. You were rattled. Your guys looked disjointed and it was LeBron’s scheduled time to sit. With him on the bench, a 13-point deficit could get ugly in a hurry. And suddenly, you’re in an 0-1 hole in the series. The coronation that you were expecting wasn’t happening.

And LeBron take a seat down 23-10. Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo came into the game for LeBron and Dwight…I mean, this was playing out perfectly for the Heat, right.   Eehhhhhhh!! Wrong. Suddenly, the Lakers remembered they were the Lakers; and apparently the heat remembered they were the heat and got here by beating up on a bunch scrubs in the east.  Because things changed in a hurry

KCP for three.... KCP for three again

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was keeping the Lakers in it in the first quarter, just like we all knew he would: because when it all hits the fan, we can all count on KCP to hitting his threes.  And it was contagious; and everyone else started getting on the act: the act of abusing the overmatched Heat.

What the hell happened to vaunted Heat perimeter defense we talked about yesterday: think you might want to get a hand in someone’s face. Anyone’s face. Before A.D. starts knocking em in from way outside:

LA hit 65% of their threes in the first half. They went from down 23-10 halfway through the first quarter to up 65-48 at halftime. A 30-point swing.  And at that point, that’s not just a run that was the entire game. Thanks for coming, Miami. A complete and total kick to the package for the Heat. And it would only get worse. It got so bad that the final score didn’t even matter.

Because it wasn’t just about the threes, and it wasn’t just about the Lakers mercilessly hunting mismatches when Miami switched on pick-and-rolls, although that was impressive. If you were wearing a Heat jersey and the Lakers didn’t think much of your defense, they were attacking you every chance they got.

But it wasn’t just about bombing from deep and hunting mismatches, it was about this moment in the final minute of the first half as well. It was LeBron battling under the glass and then getting into a stare down with Jae Crowder.

That was a moment. That was a statement. Statement being, we’re not punks. We’re not one of those eastern conference weaklings that you can bully and intimidate. We’re not backing down. And we’re not the pacers, bucks or Celtics. That was LeBron saying, you know who the hell I am.  And then reminding Crowder who the hell he is, or isn’t.  LeBron’s jam at the end of the half didn’t count; and it didn’t matter; the message was sent. We’re no one’s bitch. Especially yours, Miami.

Ask LeBron, he’ll admit, sure, we tasted our own blood early on, but that’s what we needed:  "I don't think in the beginning we were physical enough. You have to get a feel for how hard Miami plays. I think they smacked us in the mouth. From that moment when it was 23-10, we started playing to our capabilities."

AND IT WOULD STILL GET so much worse for Miami. Forget for a moment the fact that we officially had garbage time in the third quarter of a Finals game. And by the fourth quarter, the announcing crew was just telling random stories about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar playing for Pat Riley. If that game had gone any longer, Mike Breen would’ve just been reading from a dictionary to fill time.

And I’m glad it didn’t go any longer, because it was already way too long. If it had gone longer, Miami wouldn’t have had anyone left to play. They’d have been throwing assistant coach Chris Quinn into the game to run point.

There was the Goran Dragic injury.

And the Jimmy Butler injury.

And the Bam Adebayo injury

Losing the first game of Finals is one thing, having your three most important players injured in Game 1 of the Finals is another?

Butler continued playing last night. According to reports, Adebayo will play in Game 2. But according to Woj, Dragic suffered a plantar tear in his left foot. That sucks. It really does. It sucks for him to work his ass off and get to the Finals and then have it go like this. It sucks for the Heat.

And it sucks for fans. Because after everything that has happened over the course of this season, everyone wants a good Finals. Everyone wants a competitive Finals. Nobody wants to see LeBron and Anthony Davis bullying Solomon Hill and Kelly Olynyk on their way to a sweep.

And no, I’m expecting the Lakers to shoot 65% from three in a half again. Nobody should. That was crazy. That was an outlier. And if it wasn’t for the injuries, the Heat could just take that game, throw it in the trash, and come back again in Game 2.

Just don’t come in here, Laker fans, and tell me that you knew the Lakers were going to blow out Miami all along. You didn’t. Nobody did. And you were sweating it like crazy halfway through the first quarter. I know you were.

As for the grim details for Miami, Chris Haynes reported that Dragic left the arena in a walking boot, but didn’t appear to be favoring his foot. I guess that’s good news, sort of, possibly, probably not.

Let me make this very simple: if Dragic is done, so is the series. Grand opening and grand closing. Shut it down, let’s go home.

If he’s not 100 percent, the Heat don’t have a chance. Hell, even if he is one hundred percent, they might not have a chance now. They need him on the floor and healthy. Just like they need Bam on the floor and healthy. And if either of those guys aren’t totally right, it’s going to be a really short, really painful series for Miami: like it was night. 

If they’re not right, that was the first game of the Finals and it might as well have been the last game.