The Los Angeles Lakers are not going to make it easy on Lakers fans.
They will play game six of the 2020 NBA Finals tonight against the Miami Heat, as they look to close them out after failing to do so Friday night. The game was only LeBron James’ second loss in his last 18 opportunities to close out a team in the playoffs, as they just couldn’t get over the hump against the Heat, losing 111-108. After an embarrassing final play when the Lakers were only down 109-108, the team will now look to execute better down the stretch. Executing for the full 48 minutes may be even more important though, as the Lakers struggled to do that in game five.
Cleaning up defensive miscues
The Lakers’ defense has carried them all season led by the runner-up Defensive Player of the Year, Anthony Davis. Davis was hobbled throughout the game on Friday, noticeably limping down the stretch as his athletic ability on the defensive end may have been compromised due to a heel contusion that he re-aggravated during the game. Still, even without Davis at 100%, the Lakers team made defensive mistakes that his injury had no impact on. Pete Zayas of Laker Film Room detailed nearly all of these mistakes below, in a…very long thread.
Miami does an extraordinary job of capitalizing on defensive mistakes, and the Lakers made quite a few of them in Game 5. Here's a thread of plays where they capitalized on our inattention.
On this play, Danny Green turns his head and Duncan Robinson loses him on the relocation. pic.twitter.com/uZ9ndzjPlw
— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) October 10, 2020
This thread includes nearly everyone on the Lakers but includes a good amount of the Lakers’ bench players including Rajon Rondo, Markieff Morris, and Kyle Kuzma. A few defensive miscues could have been excused by the bench if they were playing well on the offensive end, but that definitely wasn’t the case. The bench of those three players in addition to Alex Caruso combined for 14 points on 4-of-22 from the field. The Lakers need production from at least one of those four players if not two, as it is embarrassing to have LeBron and Davis combine for 68 points only for the Lakers to lose.
Anthony Davis’ health
As mentioned above, we’ll have to see how Davis is doing early in this game as he looked extremely hurt from his right heel contusion. It’s an injury that he’s had on the Lakers’ injury report for as long as I can remember in these playoffs, but he has always been listed as “probable” with it, with the injury never being a topic of conversation between him and the media.
Right after the game, Davis confidently said he would be “fine” for Sunday. That was confirmed by Dave McMenamin of ESPN yesterday, revealing that the official injury report again listed Davis as probable for game six meaning he will almost certainly play.
That’s not surprising, as I think it would have taken a limited ability to even stand for Davis to be held off the court for game six. However, the Lakers will need him to be near 100% at least if they are to win tonight as the Heat make it extremely difficult on our defense with the way they are always moving in attack mode.
Tip-off will be at 6:30 p.m. PST as the Lakers will try again for number 17!