2020 NBA Finals | Lakers vs. Heat
The Finals Stat, Game 1: Lakers beat Heat at their own game
The Los Angeles Lakers are in control. After trailing by 13 points early in Game 1 of The Finals, they outscored the Miami Heat 75-30 over the next 22 minutes of basketball, eventually cruising to a a 116-98 victory on Wednesday.
The Heat have more to worry about than the loss. In the process, they lost both Goran Dragic (left foot) and Bam Adebayo (left shoulder) to injuries. Jimmy Butler also turned his left ankle twice. And if any of those three guys is unavailable going forward, the task of winning four of the next six games (against a team that’s won 13 of its last 15) becomes much tougher.
One stat stood out from the rest as the Lakers took a 1-0 series lead.
|OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions
OREB% = % of available offensive rebounds obtained
25-11 — Made free-throw differential in Game 1.
Entering The Finals, the Heat ranked second in postseason free throw rate (33.2 attempts per 100 shots from the field) and had outscored their opponents by 3.9 points per game (the third best differential) from the free throw line. The Lakers ranked third in free throw rate (30.9 attempts per 100 FGA), but 15th in opponent rate (31.7), and had been outscored by 1.5 points per game at the line.
The Lakers starting Dwight Howard, the postseason leader in fouls per 36 minutes, increased the chances of the Heat being able to get to the line, and Howard did commit three fouls in just 14:55. But Miami’s 14 free-throw attempts were tied for their fewest in the postseason. Adebayo matched his postseason average (six attempts) in just 21 minutes and Butler drew a game-high seven fouls. But his five free-throw attempts were four fewer than his postseason average and the Heat had just three attempts beyond those two.
Meanwhile, the Lakers were 25-for-27 themselves from the line. Anthony Davis drew six fouls and was 10-for-10. And it was LeBron James who took Adebayo into the paint late in the first quarter to draw the second straight foul on the Heat center, a critical play in the Lakers’ comeback from that early deficit.
The Lakers’ 3-point shooting (11-for-15) was the story of that extended, 75-30 run. But that’s obviously not sustainable and Miami’s bigger concern could be inside the arc.
If the Heat can’t outscore the Lakers at the line, they’re in trouble. Butler and Adebayo are their main source of free throws, but losing Dragic’s 14 drives per game (10th in the postseason through the conference finals) would hurt their ability to put pressure on the Lakers’ defense and get to the stripe.
* * *
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.