Lakers vs Heat
Photo Credit: LA Times

Game Preview: Lakers vs Heat – NBA Finals – Game 6


Los Angeles Lakers (15-5) |  Miami Heat (14-5)


Miami made things interesting with the Game 5 win, but the Lakers will look to close things out Sunday night in Game 6.


Lakers vs Heat
Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP

The stage was set. It was a Friday night. The Los Angeles Lakers were wearing their black uniforms in honor of Kobe Bryant. It was Game 5, which meant that the Lakers had the opportunity to clinch all four of their playoff series this postseason in five games. It seemed like it was all meant to be for Los Angeles to win it on that night.

They were just one win away from winning their 17th championship in the franchise’s illustrious history. But that is not what happened. The Miami Heat had other plans for their destiny. At the end of the night, the Heat pulled off the hard-fought 111-108 victory to make it a 3-2 series. Now it’s all about Sunday and what will happen in Game 6. Will the Lakers win the championship in their Sunday whites? Or will we see Miami extend this series to a climactic Game 7?

Jimmy Butler is be coming off another legendary performance with a triple-double that has the stat line of 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. He shot an impressive 11-19 (57.8%), mostly going to his bread and butter, his mid-range jumpers. By the end of the game, Butler was hunched over-exhausted, showing the heart of a man who will not go down without a fight. Although he played his heart out, Butler did not do it alone, as almost every single player who stepped on the court for the Heat scored in double figures.

Duncan Robinson had his Finals moment in Game 5 with 26 points on 7-13 shooting from three, including some clutch three-pointers in the fourth quarter that led to some four-point plays. All-Star big man Bam Adebayo had a quiet 13 point performance on 5-12 (41.6%) shooting from the floor. Tyler Herro helped score 12 points on a dismal 4-11 (36%) shooting night. Jae Crowder also struggled to score, going 4-13 (30.7%), but was able to finish with 11 points. Kendrick Nunn actually came up huge off the bench to score 14 points on 6-11 (54%) shooting from the field.

For the Lake Show, it was once again LeBron James, who was leading the way for his team. He finished the game with a double-double of 40 points and 13 rebounds. James shot an impressive 15-21 (71.4%) from the floor, including going 6-9 (66%) from behind the arc. You can tell that James saw the finish line and was doing whatever he could to get the Lakers there, but it just wasn’t enough.

Anthony Davis, his partner in crime, also finished with a double-double with 28 points and 12 rebounds. Davis also had a solid shooting night, going 9-15 (60%) from the floor. Davis had a minor injury scare early in the game when he seemed to get his foot stepped on by Andre Iguodala, which hurt his heel. Fortunately, Davis was able to return and play the rest of the game, but it seemed to slow him down, especially in the game’s final minutes.



Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was the only other player to score in double figures for Los Angeles, with 16 points on 6-15 (40%) shooting. After being an inconsistent player throughout his tenure as a Laker, Caldwell-Pope has stepped up in these NBA Finals.



Lakers vs Heat
Photo Credit: Daily Mail

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma, or Alex Caruso. Perhaps the balanced scoring of Miami and the Lakers bench’s lack of help was the difference in this one.

Another huge issue for Los Angeles was their defensive communication down the stretch of the game. There were issues with switches on the Heats’ three-point shooters. There was also a lack of rotation movement whenever Butler drove to the basket, which was most of the time.  These issues, coupled together, led to easy buckets for Miami.

Caruso made some good hustle plays that led to extra possessions for the Lakers, but he and Kyle Kuzma struggled to switch and keep up with the Heat shooters.

Green’s shooting slump continued as many fans started to have no confidence in the two-time champion and wished not to see him on the floor. His worst moment came in the game’s final seconds when he missed a wide-open three to win the game and the championship potentially. With 16.8 seconds left on the clock and down by one, James drove to the basket to have three Heat players collapse on him and left Green wide open at the top of the key. After Green left it short, Markieff Morris grabbed the offensive rebound but then passed the ball to no one as the ball sailed out of bounds with 2.2 seconds left on the clock.



After a pair of Herro free throws, James threw up a halfcourt hail mary at the buzzer but missed to officially end the game and give Miami the victory.



Lakers vs Heat
Photo Credit: The New

After the game, many people were on James for not shooting the ball instead of passing it to a struggling Green. Despite making the right play, James is the guy who most would want to take the last shot in those situations.

Back in the 90s, Michael Jordan had moments of knocking down the winning shots, but also had moments of trusting his teammates and passing the ball to Steve Kerr and John Paxson to knock down the big shot. What if Kerr or Paxson didn’t make those shots? Would we talk about the Chicago Bulls and MJ in the clutch? We will never know, but it is tough to fault James for making a similar play to Jordan.

Perhaps the fault is on head coach Frank Vogel for not making a play call that included their best two players in James and Davis. A pick and roll with those two would have been ideal, especially since Davis is usually automatic from midrange, and they were only down by one.

Maybe it is on Davis for not calling an audible when he saw James dribble into three defenders and taking charge as a superstar player. Davis was hurt and moving a bit slow in those final minutes and perhaps does not possess that killer mentality yet. Who knows who is truly to blame here, but it does not matter now as there will be a Game 6. Miami is hoping to have Goran Dragic back to go along with this momentum and hopefully extend the series to a final seventh game. The Lakers are hoping Davis‘ foot feels better by Sunday, to work on their defensive communication, and figure out who will take that final shot if needed.




The Lakers tip-off against the Heat in Game 6 on Sunday, Oct. 11, at 4:30 pm PT. You can watch the game on ABC.

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-Isaiah Torres – Franchise Sports Media

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