After a huge win that the Miami Heat capitalized on in game three over the Los Angeles Lakers, you may not expect many changes. But there will be.
For starters, there may be yet another rotational change in game four, since there is a chance that Bam Adebayo could return. But what does this mean for Miami’s starting lineup?
Many would probably expect Bam to enter the lineup in the place of Meyers Leonard, but I’m not sure that’s the route Coach Erik Spoelstra will go. It has clearly been effective when using Meyers Leonard or Kelly Olynyk when Dwight Howard is in the game, which means they will probably give Meyers the first 6 minutes to take that match-up.
So if it’s not Meyers, who will Bam Adebayo start in front of if he plays?
I believe the move will be to put Tyler Herro back into a bench role. Now, he’s clearly one of their most effective scorers, but just because he’s not starting, doesn’t mean he won’t play 35+ minutes.
This means that Jimmy Butler will play the one, which matches up well with the Lakers since LeBron James has been playing the point for them. And obviously with an adjustable coach like Erik Spoelstra, he can make a switch at any time.
If Miami doesn’t decide to go this route, they will probably decide to just put Bam Adebayo back at the five as they did in game one. This means that their starting lineup will be the death lineup that I’ve talked about prior to the NBA bubble. Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder, and Bam Adebayo would look to try and blow the doors off early in the first quarter, which is usually when they throw their strongest punch.
Miami also will have to keep some strategic things that they used in game three.
For one, they will need to continue to be physical with Anthony Davis and other bigs. Since their offense runs on the production of AD, it’ll be crucial to try and slow him down. This also means to continue to be energetic and emphatic on grabbing rebounds. Miami made it clear that they were going to make sure to dominate in that area, since the film showed that’s what lost them game two.
Another thing they will have to continue defensively is going away from the zone. That adjustment in game three gave them the defensive edge that they needed. The zone may have got them here in some instances, but it ultimately isn’t effective against this team, which was a huge adjustment on Erik Spoelstra’s part.
As much as the Lakers have been talking about watching film and making adjustments for game four, so is Miami. They will be physically prepared, and more importantly mentally prepared.
It is that next man up mentality, but as Jae Crowder said after game three, it is also that “next game up mentality.” Jimmy Butler and others will be ready for the challenge.