2020 NBA Finals | Lakers vs. Heat

24 thoughts on Game 4 of The Finals

Lakers' depth moves L.A. within 1 win of its 17th NBA title

ORLANDO — The worst-kept secret in the bubble leading up to Game 4 of The Finals was that Heat All-Star center Bam Adebayo was going to play.

The emotional boost for the Heat had to be huge. Just knowing that they’d have the player Jimmy Butler refers to as the “heart and soul” of the team back in the mix after injuring his left shoulder in Game 1 was the energy boost coach Erik Spoelstra’s team was looking for — especially with the most consequential game of the series on tap.

> Finals Game 5: Friday, 9 p.m. ET on ABC

Whether or not a semi-healthy (or at least healthy enough) Adebayo would be the key to a second consecutive Heat win in this series remained to be seen. He still had to deal with the physicality the Lakers would apply.

He made the first basket of the game Tuesday, looking as bouncy as he’s been this entire postseason. Then it was just a matter of how long he could maintain it and, whether it would be enough to propel the Heat.

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24 — Might be worth $20 a cup if you play like this!

23 — Whatever magic Lakers assistant Phil Handy has on his side these past six seasons, I need to borrow some of it ASAP!

22 — They should get Jae Crowder one of those Black Panther suits for the work he’s doing in the low post early on against Dwight Howard.

21 — Congrats to LeBron on yet another milestone. But look at this list and tell me Bill Russell wasn’t an absolute monster. Don’t argue eras to me either. He’s the Lord of the Rings and I’m not standing for any disrespect tonight.

20 — Somebody check Tyler Herro’s body for any possible fractures. LeBron didn’t have to do the rookie like that!

19 — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope carrying the Lakers in the early going. I said, KCP is carrying the Lakers right now!!!!

18 — Kyle Kuzma’s knocking down shots on one end of the floor and being targeted on the other. I tried to be a little more diplomatic than Perk.

17 — Don’t want to jinx anything, but Butler is balling again. Any fear factor the Lakers might have enjoyed in Games 1 and 2 is officially gone. The Heat are in this series right now in a major way.

16 — This is LeBron at his best to me, even at this late(r) stage of his career. Bully ball suits him, even if he rarely utilizes this part of his game. And yes, I know he’s really a point guard these days and thinks the game in ways very few in history have. Sometimes it just makes sense to play to your obvious advantage until the other team finds a way to stop you.

15 — Legit first half for what’s shaping up as the pivotal game of the series. Spoelstra pushing all the buttons on his coaching keypad. The Bam effect was real (nine points, four rebounds, one block, one steal and three turnovers in 15 minutes).

14 — Might this help explain some of what’s kept LeBron from going off thus far? LeBron has other ideas. He stopped to chat up the officials as the teams went their separate ways at halftime. He clearly feels like he hasn’t gotten the calls he should in the first half. Be interested to see what sort of adjustments he makes for the second half.

13 — Filing this one away until the fourth quarter:

12 — This was crazy in real time. But it’s bonkers in slow motion:

11 — Numbers never lie, right? #TheLakersRealMVP

10 — LeBron out here channeling his inner Splash Brother from deep! He and AD have stepped it up in the second half with Markeiff Morris in the starting lineup in place of Dwight Howard. Worked well enough for a 75-70 lead after three quarters. Still doesn’t feel like either team has wrestled complete control of this game away from the other, though. Strange vibe in the building. The Lakers’ family section cheering like they are down instead of leading.

9 — See, it wasn’t just me noting that strange vibe in the building.

8 — Heat passed up some quality looks near the basket in favor of hunting 3-pointers, I know you have to play the way you got here and everything, but …

7 — Hollywood in the bubble rooting on their Lakers.

6 — This is where not having Goran Dragic’s seasoning and decision-making, especially shot selection, hurts the Heat. No way around it. Glaring difference between a vet and a rookie like Kendrick Nunn, who still hasn’t regained his pre-shutdown rhythm.

5 — LeBron is working for his on both ends tonight. Tough shot. Tougher camera angle. Heat pushing the Lakers to their limits in this one. Finals drama at its best.

4 — The Heat won’t go away. Duncan Robinson with the bank shot to keep them right there.

3 — Don’t ever discount the “others.”

2 — Game time!

1 — The Lakers are one win away from their 17th banner. LeBron and AD come through huge in the clutch. But KCP, Rajon Rondo, Markieff Morris, Kuzma and the others did some serious heavy lifting for this Game 4 win. The Lakers take a 3-1 edge into Friday’s Game 5 with a chance to end the bubble experience for everyone.

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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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