2020 NBA Finals | Lakers vs. Heat
The Finals Stat, Game 6: Lakers dominate at the rim
In a season that included a 20-week hiatus and had players, coaches and staff living in a bubble for more than 90 days, the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted everybody else to win the 2020 NBA championship. The Lakers earned banner No. 17 with an easy 106-93 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 6 of The Finals on Sunday.
The game was close for about 11 minutes. But the Heat never led and they trailed by as many as 36 points, struggling offensively until late in the third quarter.
LeBron James capped his fourth championship and his fourth Finals MVP performance with his 28th career postseason triple-double, finishing with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. Anthony Davis held down the Lakers’ defense and Rajon Rondo came through with a big performance — 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting — off the bench.
One stat stood out from the rest as the Lakers closed out the longest season in NBA history.
|OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions
OREB% = % of available offensive rebounds obtained
25 — Restricted-area buckets for the Lakers in Game 6.
The NBA has taken more 3-pointers every year for the last nine seasons. But the Lakers proved that you don’t have to be a “jump-shooting team” to win in this league. In the regular season, L.A. ranked in the bottom 10 in both 3-point percentage (21st) and the percentage of their shots that came from 3-point range (23rd). In the playoffs, which began with a brutal shooting performance in Game 1 against the Portland Trail Blazers, they ranked 12th (35.4%) and 11th (40.8%).
It didn’t matter, because the Lakers had LeBron James and Anthony Davis, two of the league’s most dominant players in the paint. James and Davis combined to shoot an incredible 220-for-287 (77%) in the restricted area in a postseason in which L.A. ranked first (by healthy margins) in both field goal percentage in the restricted area (69.9%) and the percentage of their shots that came in the restricted area (33.6%).
The Lakers’ 25 buckets in the restricted area in Game 6 on Sunday were one fewer than their high for the playoffs. And they might have had more had the game not been a blowout. At the end of the third quarter, the score in the restricted area was Lakers 44, Heat 14.
James led the way, scoring 20 of his 28 points at the basket. And Rondo was the surprise contributor, beating multiple Heat defenders off the dribble for five layups.
Davis shot much better from the perimeter in the playoffs (effective field goal percentage of 52.3% from outside the paint) than he did in the regular season (41.7%), but the Lakers still made their bones inside. They shot worse from 3-point range than their opponent in 12 of their 21 playoff games, and they went 7-5 in those games. Other teams were 21-49 when shooting the lower percentage from beyond the arc.
The Lakers’ perimeter shooting was not a fatal flaw after all. Not only because of how well they scored inside, but also because of how well they defended. Game 6 was the Heat’s worst offensive performance of the postseason. Davis had just eight points in the restricted area himself on Sunday, but he did most of his work on the other end of the floor.
By the end of the game, the points in the paint were close (52-44), but there’s a big difference between shots in the restricted area (64% shooting league-wide) and shots elsewhere in the paint (40%). While the Lakers had 35 of the former, the Heat had only 21, with Davis playing exclusively at center and protecting the rim.
Defense still wins championships. And, though the 3s are being launched more than ever, so do size and strength.