Miami Heat vs Los Angeles Lakers
The injury-hit Miami Heat are back in the NBA Finals. Thanks to a brilliant 40-point triple-double by Jimmy Butler, the Heat took Game 3 and will now look to even up the series at 2-2.
However, the Heat should expect a strong retaliation from the Lakers and their two stars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who did not play nearly as well as he did in the first two games.
The NBA 2020 betting odds still have the Lakers favoured in the Finals, but Butler has made things a bit more interesting. Can he repeat his playoff heroics? SBOTOP breaks down Game 4 in detail below.
Does Butler have another big game in him?
Jimmy Butler was simply sensational in Game 3. The All-Star forward produced one of the greatest NBA Finals performances of all-time as he almost singlehandedly carried the Heat to a 115-104 win.
Butler finished with 40 points on 14-of-20 shooting from the field and 12-of-14 from the free-throw line, with 11 rebounds and 13 assists on 45 minutes. That’s only the third 40-point triple-double in Finals history — Jerry West and LeBron James had the first two — and the first that resulted in a win.
Butler was so crucial to the Miami offence that the Heat didn’t score a single point during the three minutes when he sat on the bench in Game 3.
Butler was able to thrive thanks to the Heat’s shooter-heavy lineups that included Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Herro, and Duncan Robinson. The Lakers decided to stay with those dangerous shooters and dare Butler to beat them; he duly obliged.
Olynyk has stepped in the absence of All-Star big man Bam Adebayo, who has been so crucial in the Heat’s postseason success. Olynyk has scored 41 points with 16 rebounds over the last two games.
With the health status of both Adebayo and point guard Goran Dragic still in doubt, the Heat simply need Butler to come up with another incredible all-around game to stand a chance against the Lakers.
He’s already played back-to-back 45-minute games, though, so it remains to be seen how much he still has left in reserve.
The Brow must bounce back
Aside from Butler’s brilliance, the Heat’s defence was also a major factor in their Game 3 win. They were committed not to give LA easy baskets in the paint, and the Lakers struggled to make enough of their 3-pointers.
That defensive strategy — coupled with early foul trouble — successfully slowed down Anthony Davis, who finished with just 15 points in 33 minutes. Davis was a shadow of the player who had looked unstoppable in the first two games of the series, where he averaged 33 points on over 60 per cent shooting.
To be fair to Davis, though, the entire Lakers team didn’t play like they still had to finish the job in the Finals. James had 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists, but he committed eight turnovers. Markieff Morris and Kyle Kuzma both had 19 points and combined for nine 3-pointers off the Lakers bench, but the Heat were more than happy for them to take shots away from Davis and James.
Davis acknowledged after the game that he has to do better for Game 4, and if his performance in these playoffs is any indication, he will bounce back. The Lakers will look to get Davis going early, and it will be up to the Heat to stop The Brow from dominating like he did in the first two games.
Don’t count out a more aggressive performance from LeBron, either. James had only 16 shots in the game, his lowest total since Game 1 of the Nuggets series.
The Lakers have been usually at their best by the time Game 4 rolls around. They’ve won all three Game 4’s in this playoff run.
Meanwhile, Miami are 2-1 in Game 4s. Butler hasn’t been at his best in Game 4. He had just 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting in their overtime loss to the Bucks.
The Heat will be desperate not to go down 3-1, which is usually a death sentence in the Finals. Only the LeBron James-led Cavaliers have come back from a 3-1 Finals deficit in NBA history.
What are the odds?
Despite the Heat’s impressive Game 3 victory, SBOTOP odds still have the Lakers priced as significant 1.30 favourites to win Game 4, with Miami at 3.50.
Meanwhile, the Asian Handicap pegs the Lakers between 6.50 and 8-point favourites over the Heat. Miami’s chances to cover the spread will improve if Adebayo can return, so stay tuned to the latest NBA 2020 updates on his status ahead of Game 4.
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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