The Miami Heat fell short in game four against the Lakers, 102-96. Miami once again displayed their toughness and grittiness, but ultimately couldn’t pull out a win. Here are my five takeaways…
#1: Miami’s defense looked strong once again.
Miami decided to switch over to play more man in the last game, and stuck with that in game four. This caused disruption against both Anthony Davis and LeBron James. For starters, Miami’s ability to throw a bunch of guys at AD, especially with Bam Adebayo back, holds much importance. Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala continue to try and play physical with Davis, which is needed when you can’t match his length. LeBron James on the other hand also had a tough time against Miami’s defense. They forced LeBron to have 5 first half turnovers, and only score 8 points. For Miami, that was a huge plus going into halftime, since they did what they had to do on that end of the floor. The shooting is actually what seemed to hurt them early.
#2: Jae Crowder’s impact was on full display, even when he isn’t scoring.
When taking a look at the impressive first halves from Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder’s impact may have been lost. But ultimately, this was a huge reason for their defensive success. He went scoreless through 17 minutes in the first half, but somehow they missed him when he went to the bench. Anthony Davis began to gain confidence offensively once he didn’t have the physical Crowder matched up with him. This was yet another representation of these role players impact, which hold much value in an NBA finals game against LeBron James and company. He also brings an element of intensity when on the floor, which is always a spark to the team, especially the young guys. Jae’s defensive performance in game four should not be overshadowed, since it played a huge part in only going into the half down by two.
#3: Bam Adebayo’s injury doesn’t seem to be an issue.
Bam Adebayo returned to play in game four of the finals, but there were question marks if he would be 100%. And well, it was clear right out of the gate that he was. He hit the floor two times in the first quarter, and continued to play through it like nothing happened. Once again proving the toughness of Bam Adebayo. He also took initiative to be offensively involved early for Miami, which was much needed. But ultimately, his true impact came by doing everything else on the floor. His defense, passing, and rebounding abilities continued to shine in game four. And more importantly, the level of comfort he brings for teammates when on the floor. Even though this team has Jimmy Butler, Bam is the engine of this Heat team.
#4: Three-point shooting woes continue for Miami.
The Miami Heat have harped on their outstanding three-point shooting all season, but these NBA finals games haven’t proved that to be true. It was discussed that Miami were in need of a bounce back shooting game in game four, but that wasn’t exactly the case. Jae Crowder and Tyler Herro had a tough night shooting the three ball, which is needed with Goran Dragic out. The problem wasn’t only that they weren’t hitting these shots, but they were missing open shots. And when you are in an NBA finals game against a team like the Lakers, you must capitalize on those open jumpers. Miami will need to clean this issue up going forward, after shooting 11 for 32 from beyond the arc.
#5: The lack of role player production hurt Miami.
Miami has been a team all year that has thrived on the production of their bench unit and role guys. But ultimately, they didn’t show up in game four, since Kendrick Nunn, Kelly Olynyk, and Andre Iguodala had a tough time being offensive factors. Even though I mentioned the impact of Jae Crowder throughout as well, he wasn’t able to be the scoring factor that he usually is. And without Goran Dragic, there was a need for somebody to fill the shoes offensively. Kelly Olynyk did it in game three, which was a huge reason for their win. But once again, this Heat team missed Goran Dragic in game four. There were many instances in the fourth quarter where Goran would usually step up and get a bucket in a time of need. When you don’t have that offensive engine, it’s a tough game to win.