2020 NBA Finals | Lakers vs. Heat

24 thoughts on Game 5 of The Finals

ORLANDO, Fla. — Normally, you get a feel for a closeout game from the way a city reacts, the way the people buzz around town on game day.

There’s a vibe to it, an energy when one team smells that first opportunity to get their hands on that coveted Larry O’Brien Trophy and ascend to that special place only the championship teams can.

But as we’ve been over so many times here already, there is nothing normal about this NBA season, nothing familiar.

> Finals Game 6: Lakers vs. Heat, Sunday at 7:30 ET on ABC

Not one thing.

Hunting for clues in the lead up to Friday night’s Game 5 between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat proved futile in the bubble.

The absence of the usual markers made it impossible to get a read on what the Lakers would do with the 3-1 lead they earned heading into Friday night’s festivities at AdventHealth Arena. The Heat, backs against the wall and their season on the line, were equally difficult to figure on the most critical night of the season for both teams.

No reminders were needed. The first all-or-nothing game of this or any Finals has a rhythm of its own.

No fear — from either side. Just the most highly competitive game of the season


24 — OK AD, calling his shot with the Larry O’Brien edition Kobes. A lot of symbolism in the approach to this night, this game and what the Lakers hope is a huge moment for them tonight. LeBron showed up with some smoke, too!



23 — That didn’t take long. Dwight Howard and Bam get tangled up on one end. Jimmy Butler is not having any of it and gets tangled up with Dwight on the other end. Double T’s on Jimmy and Dwight. Tone set. Let’s get it on!


22 — Put this Duncan Robinson put-back on top of the list of things I didn’t expect to see tonight. Michigan Man making an impact early with 8 points on 3-for-5 shooting to pace the Heat to a 25-24 first quarter lead.

21 — Absolute silence from the Lakers’ bench and family section as AD has to be helped to his feet and then to the bench. Not clear what happened or what was injured. But I already know what the AD watchers are thinking … (The official word? An aggravated right heel contusion and he’ll be able to return.)

20 — Prayers worked. He’s back. But the Lakers are still off balance under the constant attack from the Heat (42-33 with 6:33 to play before halftime.)


But Davis doesn’t look right …

And let the foolishness begin …

19 — LeBron is keeping the Lakers in this game right now with his shooting. Three-time Finals MVP needs some serious help if he’s going to get a fourth tonight.

18 — Heat can’t hold the lead. LeBron and the are Lakers pressing and fighting their way back into this game the hard way.

17 — Second quarter was a blur. The kind of back-and-forth you’d expect from a game of this magnitude. Heat lead but have plenty to clean up if the bubble is going to stay open for business this weekend.

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16 — That said, Gary Payton’s words for The Players’ Tribune proved prophetic through the first half …

15 — LeBron was a monster. Hit the 3s to settle the Lakers and keep them within striking distance, at 60-56.

14 — Heat leading behind Butler’s 22 points and solid support from Kendrick Nunn (11) off the bench, Robinson (10) and Herro (8). Doing it with Bam (5 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists) yet to put a real mark on this game. He and or Jae Crowder (4) have to crank it up in the second half if the Heat want to spend a couple more days here.

13 — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope gets us back to even at 70 with 7 minutes to play in the third with a huge 3-pointer. It’s on from this point on. Anybody’s game. Should be clear by now to the Lakers that they will not get that trophy without a furious fight. Love the way the Heat are competing. Playing without any fear or pressure. Butler is leveling up in a major way in this series. Time to elevate his status?

12 — The hoop and the harm for Butler. Dwight with the Flagrant 1 or 2 here?

11 — This has not been Dwight’s finest hour in this series. Not by a long stretch. Lakers are more effective and much more sound (none of the shenanigans) with AD at the 5 and Markieff Morris on the floor.

10 — This duel between Butler and LeBron has been everything it was advertised to be and then some. They’re going at it, doing it all on both ends and leading the way you’d expect alphas to on this stage. Heat up 88-82 after three. Butler with 27 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists on 9/13 shooting in 35 minutes. LeBron with 28 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists on 11/14 shooting (5/7 from deep) in 30 minutes.

9 — That Heat math is no joke! (just add, subtract, multiply and divide whatever is by 3)!

8 — Robinson showing up in a major way in this one. He’s up to 23 points (6-for-11 from deep) with the Heat up 93-85 with 9:23 to play in the game.

7 — Sweet feed from LeBron to KCP for the corner 3 and the Lakers take the 97-96 lead with 6:18 to play. Not sure how anyone disputes the fact that LeBron is the ultimate hybrid star for this or any generation: Passes like a point guard, big as a power forward and tonight shooting it like a Splash Brother from deep (6-8 3Ps). He’s up to 33, 10 and 7, making it impossible for anyone else to get Finals MVP in this series.

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The Royal Express 🚅

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6 — Can he get an Amen!

5 — AD with a huge putback with 21.8 seconds left gives the Lakers a 108-107 lead. Unbelievable finish to this game. Butler and LeBron dueling before AD interrupted with this one. The Heat missed that box out. Will haunt them if they can’t find a way to win this game.

4 — Final three minutes was off the chains drama. Folks in the building still trying to catch their breath.

3 — It was these two battling all the way to the end. Instant classic. All-time great Finals battle between two cats who refused to give up an inch.

2 — Erik Spoelstra goes with the 7-man rotation and squeezes every ounce out of his guys. Duncan Robinson goes off. AD limps to the finish and we get to debate LeBron’s decision to kick it out to Danny Green and the fallout (Morris with the pass to no one) endlessly, or at least until Game 6 tips off Sunday night.

1 — Pat Riley was smiling from behind that glass. He wouldn’t have it any other way. Butler and the Heat youngsters (Robinson, Herro and Nunn) come up huge! Unreal finish! The bubble lives on!


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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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