LeBron James is just one win away from adding his fourth Larry O’Brien trophy to his collection (with his third different franchise), and with the Lakers signaling that they’ll be going for the jugular by busting out The Black Mamba jerseys, I wouldn’t be one to bet against him. The Lakers have gone 4-0 in The Bubble when donning The Mambas and dedicating this 2020 title run to the late Kobe Bryant has been a clear part of their messaging and motivation.
“It means something, it’s something more than just a uniform,” said James when asked about busting out The Mambas, adding, “What I’ve learned about being a Laker is they don’t give a damn what you’ve done until you’ve done it with them.” I don’t think this title means more to anyone who will be taking the court on Friday night than LeBron James. This will be a legacy-defining win, and I can’t think of a better way to honor The Black Mamba than coming out and stepping on Miami’s throats from the jump. The Lakers are clearly the more talented team here, but they tend to go through stretches where they allow Miami to hang around; I’m not sure that will happen at all tomorrow night.
For King James, he’s 3-0 in closeout games in The Finals, and his 38-10 record in games that can close out a series is an all-time best winning percentage. Additionally, the only team to ever overcome a 3-1 deficit in The Finals were LeBron James’ 2016 Cavs’, and I don’t think Miami has the talent to pull that sort of thing off.
Bam Adebayo (neck) has been cleared for Game 5, but Goran Dragic (foot) remains doubtful, so Miami will need to continue to rely on Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn to pick up Dragic’s production. Herro did a decent job of that in Game 4 with 21 points on 18 shots, but overall, he’s been hit-or-miss through this Finals run, connecting on just 37.9% of his field goal attempts. Aside from an 18-point performance in 20 minutes off the bench in Game 1, Nunn has had a tough time getting it going, averaging just 7.7 points, 3.0 boards and 1.0 triple on 33.3% shooting over his past three games. Duncan Robinson finally busted loose for 17 points in Game 4, but overall, he’s another one of Miami’s shooters who has had a tough time; hitting just 34.5% of his shots on this title run.
There’s a reason why so many Miami guys are struggling, the Lakers are an elite defensive team, anchored by arguably one of the best defensive players in the league in Anthony Davis. For the Lakers to blow this on Friday would be fairly embarrassing, and I just don’t see them doing that with how strongly they’ve committed to the narrative.
The Lakers have gone 10-8-1 against the spread this postseason, although they’re just 1-3 against the spread in the Finals. The under is 3-1 in the Finals, although the current total of 216 is the lowest total that’s been offered in this series, with the one over win coming when the total was set at 216.5. The total average in this series is 217.25.
As for the Heat, they’re 15-4-0 against the spread in their playoff run, and they’ve gone 3-1 against the spread through the Finals thus far. As I’m writing this, PointsBet Sportsbook has the spread at +7 Los Angeles, with the money line on Miami being +250 (-320 for the Lakers).
I think Friday’s closeout game will be a slow-paced, grind-it-out kind of game, and I’m fairly confident that the Lakers will win, but both the spread and total is right on the margins. With Bam being active, I’d lean towards taking the under, but a parlay bet where you can tease down the spread and buy a few points on the total for an under bet seems like the best bet to me. You could also tease up the spread if you want to go with Miami, but I do think the potential of Game 5 turning into a blowout makes that a somewhat riskier bet.
I think guys are sick of The Bubble at this point. It’s been three months, there's not really much to do, they miss their friends and family, and it can all be over with just one more game. Does Miami have the motivation to rally for another three games? Do they want to be there for that long? Can Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro score efficiently again? Can Jae Crowder return to his lights-out shooting ways from distance? I think the answer to all of these questions is no, so unless we see a 50-spot from Jimmy Buckets, it really feels like this thing will be all wrapped up tomorrow night.
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