The Miami Heat lost to the Los Angeles Lakers, 116-98, on a tough night for Miami. The loss wasn’t the worst part of the night for Miami, since they suffered some tough injuries throughout. Here are my takeaways from this game…
#1: Jimmy Butler lives up to “Jimmy Buckets” nickname out of the gate.
The beginning of the first quarter was looking pretty promising for Miami, since their offense was clicking behind the attack of Jimmy Butler. He came out with that offensive aggression once again, even hitting two early threes in the corner. He’s a guy that is fairly capable of doing this, but he knows that the team plays better when everyone else gets rolling. Jimmy went down with an apparent ankle injury towards the end of the second quarter, but seemed to be okay. It’s clear that Miami needs a 100% healthy Jimmy Butler for Miami to win some games in this series, but ultimately it’ll take a lot more than just Jimmy.
#2: Los Angeles Lakers’ role players step up, which were shots that Miami was going to allow.
Miami’s game-plan heading into this series with the Lakers was clear, double team LeBron James and Anthony Davis when they get the ball in their spots, and make the others around them beat you. And well, that’s exactly what the role guys did. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope got going early, while Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, and others followed right behind. Ultimately, this will not be the case going forward. Miami will continue to make those guys hit shots, and if they do, they will live with that. A lot of that though falls on their defensive issues, which will be discussed next.
#3: Miami’s defensive issues allow Lakers to pull away.
It was expected that Miami would be ready to compete defensively in this series, throwing many different schemes out there on the floor. But that wasn’t exactly the case. For starters, Miami’s defensive movement wasn’t where they’d like it to be. And also, although the role guys were hitting threes, containing the paint was the issue. You are not going to stop LeBron James and Anthony Davis from doing what they do, but you must make it tough on them. They were pretty much doing what they wanted when attacking the rim, and obviously AD got to work on the glass against the smaller lineups. These issues were clear, and it’ll be looked to be tweaked by game two.
#4: Goran Dragic, Jimmy Butler, and Bam Adebayo injuries hold some question marks.
The Jimmy Butler injury occurred late in the second quarter, when he tweaked his left ankle. He ended up staying on the floor, but then even more news came in. Tyler Herro started in place of Goran Dragic to start the second half, and it was reported that he was doubtful to return with a left foot injury. Some fear that this is a series ending injury.
I’m hearing Dragic is likely done for the series.
Working to 100% confirm but not looking good from what I’m told.
— Greg Sylvander (@GregSylvander) October 1, 2020
Bam Adebayo also went to the locker room in the third quarter, after getting his left arm tangled up, which appeared to re-injure his shoulder. He ended up not returning, which they listed it as a shoulder strain, but luckily the x-rays came back negative. Miami is already facing some on-court issues against this Lakers team, and these injury issues aren’t making it any easier. Miami’s depth is their advantage though, which means if anything is significant, they will be plugging in some guys down the roster including Kendrick Nunn, Kelly Olynyk, and others.
#5: Eyes are now on Erik Spoelstra.
Erik Spoelstra has had an outstanding playoff run since he’s implemented so many successful things on both sides of the ball. But now, it’s time for him to adjust once again. This doesn’t mean to flip their defensive game-plan, but they need to get back to their roots and increase intensity yet again. This could mean that we see a rotational change, maybe even seeing some Kelly Olynyk or Meyers Leonard minutes to get some bigger bodies on the floor. We will probably see Kendrick Nunn back in the rotation as well if Goran Dragic is out for the rest of the series. Either way, an adjustment will be made for game two. And there’s no better coach to do it than Erik Spoelstra.