The Miami Heat aren't technically dead yet. Four teams have come back from 2-0 Finals deficits. The Heat did so themselves in 2006. Bam Adebayo is planning to play in Game 3. Goran Dragic hasn't technically been ruled out. The Heat are resilient. They'll say all of the right things.
Don't fall for it. Teams have blown 2-0 leads before. None of them have entered the Finals with such an overwhelming advantage on paper, one that was expanded by in-series injuries. None of them have the track record of consistency and resilience as these Lakers. None of them have employed LeBron James.
The rest of this series, likely only two more games, is going to be a coronation. The Lakers have dominated the Finals on every front, and while there's certainly profit to be made in contrarianism, this series isn't such an opportunity. Ride the best team while you can, and get ready for a virtual parade in Los Angeles.
All lines via William Hill Sportsbook
The Lakers won Game 2 by 10 points. In the process, they fell victim to the following entirely unsustainable numbers:
- The Heat attempted 34 free-throws. Their regular-season average was 25.2, but Adebayo and Dragic are responsible for 9.5 of those attempts. Miami is not getting such a friendly whistle again.
- The Lakers attempted 47 3-pointers. That is the most they've taken this season, and with Adebayo likely returning and Miami playing less zone, that number is almost certain to decrease. The Lakers were only 13-9 in games in which they attempted at least 35 3-pointers this season. They want to dominate from the inside.
- The Lakers' starting wings, Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, shot 3-of-19 from behind the arc. Both were above-average shooters this season. Shooting variance happens, but that's ridiculous.
The game changes quite a bit with Adebayo present. It's not as simple as suggesting he is worth a certain number of points in the spread. But the Lakers crushed the Heat in Game 1 with their entire roster available, and the spacing that helped Miami keep it close in Game 2 won't be as robust with Adebayo playing in place of Meyers Leonard and Kelly Olynyk. The Lakers are a significantly better team right now, and if Adebayo is playing at less than 100 percent, it's unclear just how much the Heat can benefit from his return. Expect them to functionally lock up the title on Sunday.
It's safe to say after Game 2 that the Lakers have solved Miami's zone. Even if Adebayo returns, the vulnerabilities in the middle and behind the backline were just as present against an inferior Boston team. The Heat can't play man against the Lakers either. Game 1 was proof of that. LeBron will just hunt Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson on every possession again. So where does that leave the Miami defense?
There are gimmicks that they could try. Trapping might force the Lakers to take some 3's, but they'd be so open that it would hardly be worth it. Perhaps a different sort of zone, like a box-and-one or a triangle-and-two, but LeBron identifies and solves such junk looks in his sleep. If the Heat have a way of slowing down the Lakers right now, it isn't immediately obvious. Expect another high-scoring affair.