Even when fully healthy, the Heat entered the NBA Finals as clear underdogs in the eyes of many. The task of beating the Lakers got even tougher when Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic suffered neck and foot injuries respectively during the series opener Wednesday night. Both players were sidelined for Game 2 on Friday, and their absences certainly had an impact on the action. That being said, even if Adebayo and Dragic were good to go, it would have been very difficult for the Heat to slow down the tandem of Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
In Friday’s 124-114 victory Davis posted a line of 32 points, 14 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one 3-pointer while shooting 15-of-20 from the field. At one point he was 14-of-15 from the field, doing whatever he wanted in the paint. James added 33 points, nine rebounds, nine assists, one steal, one blocked shot and three 3-pointers, just missing out on what would have been the 28th triple-double of his postseason career. James and Davis’ 65 points made the first Lakers duo to combine for 60 points or more in an NBA Finals game since Shaquille O’Neal did so in the 2002 NBA Finals.
If there was a concern for the Lakers Friday it was the fact that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Danny Green, who both shot the ball well in Game 1, came back to earth. They combined to shoot 3-of-18 from beyond the arc, and Green was limited to 22 minutes due to soreness in his hip after taking a hard fall during the second quarter. Green will be re-evaluated on Saturday, and at that point more should be known regarding his status for Game 3. His limitations freed up a couple minutes for J.R. Smith, who played three minutes and only registered two personal fouls.
The bench helped pick up the slack for the Lakers, as the reserves combined to shoot 9-of-19 from 3-point range on the night. Rajon Rondo was 3-of-4, finishing with 16 points, four rebounds and ten assists in 26 minutes. He may not be a fan of the “Playoff Rondo” nickname, but it has proven to be accurate during these playoffs. Kyle Kuzma added 11 points, two rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers, with Markieff Morris and Alex Caruso both hitting two 3-pointers as well.
Adebayo’s absence impacted the Lakers’ center rotation, as Dwight Howard started but played just 17 minutes and JaVale McGee was a DNP-CD. Expect a similar split if Bam can’t play Sunday, with the aforementionEd Davis playing at the five for extended periods of time.
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Meyers Leonard started in place of Adebayo, seeing action for just the second time during these playoffs. And he played just nine minutes, finishing with seven points, one assist and one 3-pointer while also failing to grab a single rebound. For those still playing DFS Kelly Olynyk is the far better option if Adebayo can’t play moving forward, whether he comes off the bench or gets moved into the starting lineup. Olynyk played 37 minutes off the bench in Game 2, scoring 24 points with nine rebounds, two assists and three 3-pointers.
Tyler Herro, starting in place of Dragic, had a better go of it than Leonard. In 43 minutes he accounted for 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one 3-pointer. Kendrick Nunn was back in the rotation, and he accounted for 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, one block and one 3-pointer in 29 minutes. Herro may be the more popular player in fantasy drafts next season and with good reason, but Nunn should not be ignored as a late-round option. Outside of brief cameos from Solomon Hill and Derrick Jones Jr., Erik Spoelstra stuck with an eight-man rotation.
Jimmy Butler played 45 minutes, accounting for 25 points, eight rebounds, 13 assists and one steal. According to ESPN Stats & Information he either scored or assisted 57 of the Heat’s 114 points, which is a new career-high. Even if Adebayo and Dragic are able to play Butler will likely take on a similar workload, as the Heat are in dire need of a win.