Game Three Preview: Lakers look to take dominating series lead against Heat

LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 25: LeBron James #23, and Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands for the National Anthem before the game against the Utah Jazz on October 25, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

We here at Lakers Outsiders have been counting down the wins needed to secure championship number 17, and boy are we close right now. The Lakers just need two more wins to win the 2020 NBA Finals, but they’ll need to take the Heat seriously to do so as they have proven to be one of the most gritty and resilient teams in the NBA this year. The Lakers are up 2-0 in the series (and have now won four in a row dating back to the Nuggets Western Conference Finals) as they most recently took advantage of a depleted Heat team on Friday night.

Here’s our preview of game three of the 2020 NBA Finals.

Miami Heat still banged up

Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic missed game two of this series after they both sustained injuries in game one. Dragic’s foot injury seemed much more serious with many thinking that he would definitely miss the rest of the series right after it was announced that he had suffered a plantar tear in his foot. Adebayo’s injury is now being listed as a “neck strain” after it was believed to be his shoulder at first. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported shortly after game two that Adebayo said he “believed” that he would be in the lineup for game three, but the initial injury report for game three paints a different picture (reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic):

We will have to see if either of the players’ injury designations improve throughout today, but doubtful is the only thing worse than “out” in terms of the likeliness of a player getting out there on the court. If the Heat were even somewhat optimistic about Adebayo in particular, you would think he’d be listed as “questionable.” If the two players are out, expect Meyers Leonard and Tyler Herro to be in the starting lineup as they were for game two.

Lakers hope to be carried by LeBron James and Anthony Davis once more

Game two of the 2020 NBA Finals was somehow more of a competitive game than the first even though the Heat were without two starters and arguably their best player in Adebayo. This was mostly due to the Lakers’ lackluster defense that gave up 114 points to the depleted Heat, with LeBron James saying afterward that him, Frank Vogel, and Anthony Davis were not happy with their defensive presence.

The Lakers’ offense was pretty good, but was carried by more classic games from LeBron and Davis as well as another “Playoff Rondo” performance as Rajon Rondo dropped 16 points and 10 assists off the bench. It’s hard to bet on more games with LeBron, Davis, and Rondo combining for over 80 points; the Lakers may need help from another role player to continue winning in this series.

The shooting performances in game two from Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope bring concern. An average game from either LeBron or Davis probably would have given the Lakers a loss with the way the two 3-point shooters were playing. Green and KCP combined to only make three of their 19 3three-point attempts (15.7%). The rest of the team really picked up their slack beyond the arc (Lakers were 16-of-47 as a team, 34.0%). It’s not surprising to see that the Lakers broke an NBA Finals record with attempts in the game going up against a Heat zone defense that begs for the Lakers to take ill-advised threes. However, most of threes attempted by Green and KCP were good looks created from one of the best defense-breakers in the world, LeBron James.

It’ll also be interesting to see if the Heat stray away from the zone a little. LeBron and Davis were finding easy looks on the zone throughout the entirety of game two. It’ll be interesting to see how that impacts the three-point shooting, specifically from Green and KCP who are expected to knock most of those down.

Tip-off will be at 4:30 p.m. PST!

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