LeBron James and Anthony Davis led the way, combining for 50 points, 21 rebounds and 12 assists. But the Lakers also got a critical contribution from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who scored five of his 15 points on two straight possessions with less than three minutes to go, turning a two-point lead into a seven-point cushion.
> Finals Game 5: Friday, 9 p.m. ET on ABC
The Heat got Bam Adebayo back from a two-game absence and Jimmy Butler was just one assist away from his second straight triple-double. But Butler and the Heat couldn’t match their scoring output from Game 3 on Sunday.
One stat stood out from the rest as the Lakers took a 3-1 series lead, with Game 5 on Friday (9 p.m. ET, ABC).
|OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions
OREB% = % of available offensive rebounds obtained
74 — Miami points on 80 offensive possessions with Anthony Davis on the floor.
Through three games, this was the most efficient series (116.3 combined points per 100 possessions) that either team had played in this postseason. Over Games 2 and 3, the Heat scored 120.5 points per 100 possessions, their best two-game stretch of offense since late February. But they were held to just 96 points on 92 possessions (104.3 per 100) on Tuesday.
With Butler coming off a 40 point-game (with a career-high 26 points in the paint), Davis was assigned to Butler from the opening tip of Game 4. The Lakers switched a lot of screens for Butler, but Davis played a big role in limiting Butler to a much quieter night (22 points on 8-for-17 shooting).
With Davis playing the entire first quarter, the Heat scored just 22 points on 24 possessions. He sat to start the second and the Heat scored on their first eight possessions of the period to turn a five-point deficit into a five point lead. Then Davis checked back in and the Heat scored just eight points over their final 15 possessions of the half.
With Davis playing the entire third quarter, the Heat were again held to less than a point per possession (23 on 25). After sitting the first 2:26 of the fourth, he returned to help the Lakers force two straight 24-second violations, swatting Kendrick Nunn on the first.
Davis blocked four shots and, according to Second Spectrum tracking, the Heat shot just 6-for-19 on shots he defended. Miami’s 16 field goal attempts in the restricted area in Game 4 are tied for the fewest the Lakers have allowed all season (90 total games).
Through 19 playoff games, the Lakers have allowed 7.2 fewer points per 100 possessions with Davis on the floor (106.2) than they have with him on the bench (113.4). You can break down the numbers with Davis at center vs. power forward, but most important is that he’s on the court, period.
These Lakers were the best defensive team (allowing 4.0 fewer points per 100 possessions than the league average in the regular season) that James has played for since 2011-12, when he won his first championship. They were the first top-10 defensive team (they ranked third) that he’s played for since 2015-16, when he won his third championship.
Davis is a big part of that defensive success, and he’s a big reason that James is one win away from championship No. 4.
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