The Miami Heat had a huge performance in Game 3 to keep the series alive against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Heat were on their way to getting swept in 4 games with the way they looked in Games 1 and 2, but they came out with new energy last night. Jimmy Butler was sensational, posting a 40-point trouble while the rest of the Heat were aggressive and focused all game long.
The Heat should not have made it this far, and they want to continue proving to the world that they are not going anywhere. Before a must-win Game 4, the Heat seem to have found a way to minimize Anthony Davis and the Lakers. In fact, the Heat can legitimately come back in this series and upset the Goliath Lakers in the NBA Finals.
Here are the 5 ways the Miami Heat can come back in this series and upset the Los Angeles Lakers.
5. Bam Adebayo And Goran Dragic Must Return
As amazing as the Heat performed in Game 3 last night, they will need their two stars to come back to help them against the Lakers. Dragic and Adebayo are critical to this team for their aggressive play, and they are invaluable to the team’s playing style. Without Adebayo and Dragic, all the pressure is on Jimmy Butler to put 40-point triple-doubles every night which is simply unfeasible.
Bam Adebayo is a great defensive player and an All-Star center who can help deal with Anthony Davis and must be on the floor to help Miami limit Davis. Dragic is a scrappy point guard who has plenty of experience in critical NBA games, and a player with legitimate All-Star playmaking and scoring talent. The duo must be there to help Jimmy Butler and the Heat if they are to knock off the heavily favored Lakers.
4. Stopping The Lakers Role Players
The Lakers are known to be a top-heavy team but their role players have been sensational in the Finals. Guys like Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, KCP, and Alex Caruso have been hitting their shots and have not been liabilities from the perimeter. In fact, they have been a massive reason why the Lakers are up 2-1 right now.
The Miami Heat simply cannot have the role players having big nights, because Anthony Davis and LeBron James are already two massive headaches to deal with. Gone are the days where you let Rajon Rondo shoot because he seems to have a rhythm in the Finals. Rondo has legitimately been a 3rd star to Davis and James, and a player that the Heat must control. Letting Rondo shoot from the perimeter has equaled disaster for the Heat since he went 3-4 from 3 for 16 points in Game 2.
Dwight Howard, the forgotten former All-Star center, is another valuable piece for the Lakers right now. He is very active on the boards and is another big body that the Heat have to deal with. Howard must be held off the boards and must be placed in more one on one situations to get him away from the basket. The Lakers must take notice of the role players including Rondo and Howard to not let them be the X-Factors.
For the Heat to come back they must switch out to shooters and not underestimate the value of role players to give themselves a fighting chance.
3. Miami’s Shooters Must Shoot More Mid-Range Shots
The Miami Heat have two exceptional shooters in Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. They are two marksmen of the highest order and are two reasons why the Heat have made it this far in the postseason. They are 3-point specialists who live and die by the three, most often living there and getting buckets.
But they must switch up their approach against the Lakers. The Lakers make it a priority to defend the three-point line, which means Miami will not get the good looks they have had against teams like the Bucks or Celtics. Los Angeles have too much size and defensive presence at both the guard and forward spots, so the Heat shooters need to fake the three and pull up for mid-range jump shots. This simple switch varies Miami’s offense and gives them a go-to scoring option whenever Jimmy Butler is double-teamed.
Herro and Robinson are versatile and talented enough to make this adjustment, which will give the Heat a much-needed boost when the three-point shot or drives are not available.
2. Pressure Anthony Davis For Foul Trouble
Very simply, Anthony Davis is the biggest problem for the Miami Heat. Even if LeBron James is the best player in the world, which he is, Anthony Davis is the big man who has caused the most trouble for Miami. He is a perfect offensive player who dominates the inside with his size, and Miami had no answer for him in the first two games. But they seemed to have found a way to limit Anthony Davis and the impact he can have on a game.
By putting pressure on Anthony Davis and forcing him into foul trouble, the Heat found a way to minimize AD in Game 3. By forcing a switch onto a pick and roll or even attacking Davis in one on one situations, AD is forced to play aggressive defense which may lead to early foul trouble. LeBron James cannot defeat the Miami Heat by himself, and certainly without a superstar AD on the floor. Miami must continue to attack Davis in the paint and force him to make a decision every time because whenever AD is off the floor Miami has a fighting chance.
1. Jimmy Butler Must Play Perfect
The play of Jimmy Butler will dictate if Miami can come back or not. While it is unfair to put this amount of pressure on a player who just joined the Heat this season, it is, unfortunately, the case. Jimmy Butler must be beyond perfect for the Heat to have a chance against the Lakers. Like he was last night, with a 40 point-11 rebound-13 assist performance, he must have similar big games for the remainder of the series.
In fact, Butler’s Game 3 performance was legendary. He is the first player in NBA history to record a 40-point triple-double with 70% FG success. The only other players to accomplish this feat were Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Chris Webber, and Charles Barkley. Only Barkley did this in a Conference Finals, the others did it in a regular season. To further accentuate Butler’s terrific performance, he put up the second-highest Game Score rating of 42.0 which is only second to LeBron’s Game 6 performance (42.5) against the Golden State Warriors in 2016. Simply put, Butler was at an inhuman level in Game 3.
For the Heat to have a shot, Butler needs to be inhuman. He needs to be perfect on both ends of the floor, making his shots and playing harder than anyone else on defense. Butler is playing like a superstar and franchise player at the moment, and if he can manage to keep up this sensational level of play, the Heat can come back and win this series.