2020 NBA Finals | Lakers vs. Heat

24 thoughts on Game 2 of The Finals

Unshakeable belief, impressive shooting and an old head comes correct

ORLANDO, Fla. — If Jimmy Butler still believes, why shouldn’t we?

He’s been on point every other time during this magical Miami Heat run to The Finals. He called his shot as the teams descended upon the NBA bubble in July; Butler said the Heat were here to win it all, even if no one else believed in them.

He had no idea his point guard and Heat playoff star Goran Dragic (left foot injury) would go down in Game 1 and be ruled out for Game 2 and more. The Heat won’t have All-Star Bam Adebayo either, that shoulder injury he suffered in that Game 1 blowout to the Los Angeles Lakers keeping the young center from suiting up here Friday night at AdventHealth Arena.

There’s a Game 2 or bust feel to this series for the Heat, who were already a decided underdog before they got started and even moreso now that they’re without two starters — Meyers Leonard and rookie Tyler Herro moved into the starting lineup in place Adebayo and Dragic, respectively.

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Business trip continues. #HEATCulture

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And they both made 3-pointers early to keep the Heat close early and giving a little life to Butler’s “next man up” theory.

But a sincere belief in a plan works for only so long. Reality has a way of snapping you out of that dream state where anything, literally anything, is possible:

24 — Six quick points on 3-for-3 shooting and a block on a Butler layup from Dwight Howard has all of Southwest Atlanta on fire for the resurgence of the one-time best big man in basketball. His spice since being inserted into the mix late in the Western Conference finals against Denver has provided the beef and blunt force the Lakers were looking to use against a smaller Heat team. #ATLShawty

23 — The Lakers are showing great patience in their offense, shooting over and passing around and through the cracks of the Heat’s 2-3 zone, cracks that look mighty without Adebayo in the middle. They are only shooting 30% (6-for-20) from deep with 8:07 to play in the second quarter. But their 10-point lead seems like a more commanding grip on this game than the scoreboard suggests.

22 — Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he hadn’t forgotten about Rookie of the Year runner-up Kendrick Nunn, whose playoff role was significantly impacted by a positive COVID-19 test. It allowed Dragic to assume that starting role and flourish before suffering his injury. But Nunn popped in the fourth quarter of Game 1, with the game already decided, of course.

“Yeah, we haven’t forgotten what he can do,” Spoelstra said. “This is, sometimes you have to separate all this, the competition and coaching and your team and just the human side of it. You’re rooting for the guy. He had a tremendous year. We haven’t forgotten about that. And I’ve had great compassion for everything that he’s gone through. But he’s got significant perseverance. He’s been through a lot and he just continues to grind. I love watching him work. I just love coming in every day and just watching him put in the time and be ready for his opportunity when it inevitably would happen.”

Nunn popped again in Game 2, bringing good energy in 14 minutes off he bench and scoring seven points to help the Heat stay close in the second quarter.

If the Heat plan on stealing a game in this series, I believe it will have to be the one where Nunn goes off (in conjunction with Butler and either Tyler Herro and/or Duncan Robinson) in a 3-point storm.

21 — The Twitter love affair with Alex Caruso continues … and with good reason.

20 — That Lakers’ bench was outstanding in the first half, led by Rajon Rondo (nine points, four rebounds, two assists), Kyle Kuzma (eight points), Caruso (six points) and Markeiff Morris (four rebounds, three points). I don’t know how any team — the Heat at full strength or anyone else — would be able to deal with a Lakers team where LeBron and Anthony Davis are playing as well as they did in the first half, and with ample backup from their supporting cast. Just don’t see how it could be done.

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Man on a mission 👑

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19 — What kind of first half was it for the Heat?

18 — I got Fat Joe with the front row spot and Desus (of Desus and Mero) second row, far right. Beyond those two, I’m lost. I saw LL Cool J on the board earlier … at least I think I did. Been in the bubble long enough now where you start to question yourself sometimes.

17 — This is just way too easy for AD. I’m starting to agree with the crowd that says he should have been higher than sixth in the Kia MVP voting. I was conflicted with how to gauge he and LeBron’s value playing off each other. But he’s making a story case right now for Finals MVP. My man @realtuffjuice is right:

16 — My GOAT Charles Woodson saying what the rest of us are thinking. I don’t know what it looks like on TV but I promise you, it doesn’t feel like two teams playing on the same level. It’s just difficult to see a window for the Heat right now. They are at such a disadvantage without Bam and Dragic.

15 — At this point, Spo might as well put UD in the game!

14 — To their credit, the Heat cranked up the energy after their leader and OG vet lit into them. They are attacking the basket and the bench is energized as well. Down 100-89 with 90 seconds to play in the third quarter. Maybe they’ve found something to work with here to really get all the way back into this game. A compelling finish is all we’re asking for.

13 — #anOG@work … Just watch the video!

12 — Every time the Heat make a little headway and cut into this lead, the Lakers come back with a 3-pointer on that zone to keep them on the end of that jab. The heads in the Heat family section go back every time. But at least we’ve got a game (111-101 Lakers with 9 minutes to play).

11 — Nothing but respect for Rondo’s game. To still be this impactful speaks volumes about him.

10 — Nunn with the low-key play of the game for the Heat. A ridiculous block on AD at the rim. Somebody better get that clip because it’s going on Nunn’s rookie highlight reel.

9 — Lakers leaning on that size advantage around the rim now that the 3-pointers aren’t falling. The nightmare of LeBron and AD attacking you inside and out is pressure the Heat will continue to struggle with in this series. No way around it. Lakers’ rebounding edge is only 39-33 with 4:36 to play, but 14 of those are offensive rebounds. That’s an absolute backbreaker in a 115-104 game.

8 — Some of the LeBron debates can get extremely trivial. But this one makes pretty good sense to me. No need for artificial enhancers.

7 — It took AD forever to get his first points of the fourth quarter (a dunk) but he played excellent defense all the way through. Just a menace in the passing lanes and recovering.

6 — We’re going to have to hear this Kelly Olynyk chatter after this. I can already feel it coming. That’s what happens when you go for 24 points (9-for-16, 3-for-7 from deep) and 9 rebounds off the bench in Game 2 of The Finals.

5 — Magic’s smiling after the Lakers’ 124-114, but the Heat made things interesting down the stretch. They gave chase this time, which was nice to see after Game 1.

4 — It felt like a 3-point party every time the Heat made a move. The 16-for-47 night from deep, though, tells a different story. Lakers win this series pounding their advantage in the paint and around the rim.

3 — Who you got for Finals MVP after two games? It’s tight right now. Careful with that narrative business, though.

2 — AD with the exclamation point on the win for the Lakers. They remain undefeated in the Mamba jerseys (Kuzma says wear them for two more).

1 — Cannot say enough about Rondo (heard him say the other day he doesn’t care much for the Playoff Rondo moniker). If the Lakers have a No. 3 star on this team, it’s the veteran point guard who hasn’t been on this stage in a decade. It’s a do-or-die Game 3 Sunday for the Heat.

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Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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