The Miami Heat came away with the win in an intense battle with the Los Angeles Lakers in game six, 111-108. Late free throws from Jimmy Butler iced the game for Miami, after a great attack to the basket. A late defensive stance on LeBron James and company officially iced it. Here are my five takeaways…
#1: Kendrick Nunn steps up early offensively for Miami.
It wasn’t even expected that Kendrick Nunn would be inserted back into the rotation, yet he was and absolutely shined. I’ve always said that a confident Kendrick is a productive Kendrick, and that proved true once again. That falls onto the trust that Erik Spoelstra put into him though. Even when nobody else believed he could be a viable option to help out in game five, he still threw him right in. He scored an impressive 11 first half points, but the scoring wasn’t even the most noticed trait. The play-making abilities were on display tonight as well, which is something else that comes along with confidence. 0 first half turnovers was another huge stat for him. He proved throughout the season that he can play, and that didn’t just disappear over time.
#2: Yet again, Jimmy Butler puts on a show in the first half.
This may be the story line for every Heat game in the first half, but he showed up once again. This time putting up 22/6/6 and 7 for 10 from the field in 23 out of 24 minutes. His will to win was going to be needed in game five, and that’s exactly what was shown. He truly does everything on the floor that you need. Lead, defend, play-make. His two-way abilities are very special, and they clearly improve in a playoff setting. Adjustments were going to be necessary as well, due to the fact that he would have Anthony Davis guarding him. Instead of just attacking the paint against that defensive specialist, he began to utilize pull-ups in the mid-range area and three point shots to make AD have to worry about more than just attacking the rim. Once again, he proved that there’s not many guys that you’d want as the leader of your team over him.
#3: Andre Iguodala has trouble impacting offensively, but finds other ways.
If you took a look at the stat line in the first half that showed 0 points for Andre Iguodala, you may think he didn’t impact the game. But well, that wasn’t the case. He was a team best plus-10 in the first half, even when going scoreless. That’s because he found other ways to contribute, mostly on the defensive side of the ball. It has been obvious that Andre’s quick hands on the defensive end have been great throughout the season, and it was shown once again in game five. He has some tough defensive match-ups with this Lakers team, and he showed he can utilize his high IQ play to his advantage. Andre has been in this position before, and it is showing.
#4: Bam Adebayo had a tough time getting going on both sides of the floor.
It was obvious that this wasn’t the same Bam Adebayo that Heat fans are used to. There was a lack of that offensive firepower that he always seems to bring. When his activity around the rim increases, the offensive production increases. He also didn’t seem to have that same aggression when attacking Anthony Davis. He was very reluctant and hesitant when being guarded by AD, which is unlike Bam to do so. He also lacked a bit of intensity, which may have something to do with him not being totally 100%. He seemed to become energized in the fourth quarter, once he realized he was needed to step up. Either way, Bam knows that he could’ve played much better throughout.
#5: One game at a time.
One game at a time. That’s the best way to describe the Miami Heat’s current situation. They all believe there’s no need to look at this series full picture, but instead focus at the task at hand. As talked about previously, Jimmy Butler clearly did his part with an incredible all around game. Duncan Robinson also stepped up, not only by his shooting, but through his winning plays. Kendrick Nunn was also huge by the way that he stepped up as the scorer he has been all season. But instead of looking at individual performances, this was a team effort. A team that bought into each other, and stayed focused no matter the situation. Now the next focus is game six on Sunday night.