Lakers Shut Down a Miami Heat Comeback
The Los Angeles Lakers took a commanding 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals by leaning on the thing that has defined their greatness all season: defense. The Lakers not only held the Miami Heat to 96 points, their lowest output of the postseason, but they also did so with a key tactical adjustment, putting Anthony Davis on Jimmy Butler, which shut down the man who torched the Lakers in Game 3.
While Butler started strong and finished poorly, LeBron James did the opposite. Following an awkward first quarter that included five turnovers, James ended the game as the leading scorer and leading rebounder. A remarkable 20 of his 28 points came in a pivotal second half that brought his team within one win of a title.
Looking ahead to Game 5, the Miami offense has to be better to extend the series. Butler will have to overcome the Davis matchup, and his teammates will have to give him more help. The Heat bench combined to go 4-for-19 from the field for just 13 points Tuesday, and Heat shooters converted just three of their 14 open 3s, per Second Spectrum.
It's a make-or-miss league, and Miami's off-ball players didn't make enough shots to hang.
Sturgis Rally Through Getty Images