My predictions for Game 2 of the NBA Finals were spot on. The Lakers won by 10 points and the total score went well over 216½ points. Those of you who placed wagers on these unsurprising outcomes, were rewarded with sports betting war chest booty. The full betting preview and NBA betting odds analysis for Game 2 can be seen here.
The Heat never truly threatened to win Game 2, and one could feel the frustration wafting off the court. Los Angeles always kept Miami comfortably at arm’s length and made it seem almost effortless.
Game 3 provides us with the grand theater of desperation. The Heat are fanning their own flames, in an effort to avoid the depths of an 0-3 hole. L.A. would look a lot less comfortable on the court if Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo were available for Miami.
Unfortunately, both Dragic and Adebayo are still listed as doubtful as of this writing. What can the Heat do to compete? As the Beastie Boys once said, “Something’s Gotta Give”. Expect a shakeup in Miami’s approach and one hell of a fight in the Bubble on Sunday. Our sportsbook currently lists the Lakers as 9 ½ -point favorites again, with the over/ under slightly elevated to 220 total points.
Spotlight On Butler and Iguodala
Heat F Jimmy Butler stepped up and played aggressively in Game 2, logging a game-high 45 minutes in the process. Butler fell two rebounds short of a triple-double in a balanced all-around effort, always pushing Miami forward. “Jimmy Buckets” scored 25 points and dished 13 assists while pulling down eight boards. Butler has never won an NBA Championship and is doing all he can to will the Heat onward.
Relegated role-player Andre Igoudala has played on championship-winning squads in three of the last five seasons prior to this one. Iguodala was named 2015 NBA Finals MVP for the Golden State Warriors, averaging 16.3 points, four assists, and 5.8 rebounds.
The Heat need Iguodala’s verteran savvy. Iguodala has played an expanded role since Dragic and Adebayo went down but has to flex his muscles. “Iggy” has calmly passed up open shots during this series, when he should lock in and knock them down. Look for Iguodala to play with a killer instinct in Game 3.
Enter the Wise Old Intimidador: Udonis Haslem
Los Angeles has looked far too comfortable in the first two games. PG Rajon Rondo is doing an excellent job captaining the ship and is thriving in Erik Spoelstra’s zone coverage scheme. Lebron James and Anthony Davis are roaming around and scoring at will, while other Lakers take pot-shots from the perimeter.
However, just like Bob Dylan warned us, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” Perhaps that hard rain will take the shape and form of 40-year-old veteran forward Haslem. Anyone watching Game 2 witnessed the impassioned, three-time NBA Champ going berserk in the huddle during a third-quarter timeout. Some suggest that Haslem should be brought in all thugged-out, to rattle the cages of James and Davis.
Stugotz: "You have to start Udonis Haslem…Let him do his best to deliver those 6 fouls and somehow take out Anthony Davis or LeBron."
Bill Simmons: "That’s a brilliant idea!"
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) October 2, 2020
While I don’t agree with Miami strategizing to injure any L.A. players or “taking them out,” there is logic here. Haslem has three championship rings with the Heat, and two of them were earned alongside James, in 2012 and ’13. The veteran’s 6-foot-8 frame and fiery disposition could come in handy down low against the L.A.’s big men.
The Lakers’ dynamic duo of James and Davis is dominating the court. LBJ and “The Brow” are averaging 62 points, 12 assists, and 22 ½ rebounds per game in The Finals. A player like Haslem can disrupt the Western Twin Towers’ flow a bit.
Haslem can bruise and batter James and Davis, spending his fouls wisely and making them think twice. The Heat haven’t played Haslem much this year, but it’s time they bring their festering ace out of the hole. Whether Haslem plays in Game 3 or not, he’s clearly stoking the Heat’s fire, and this contest will be a lot closer than the last two.
Heat vs Lakers Game 3 Predictions
Miami has the talent and depth to compete with Los Angeles, without Dragic and Adebayo on the floor. Expect Butler and Iguodala to shoulder the load, leading the way for younger guys like Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. Sharpshooting money players like Herro and Robinson will insert dagger after dagger when they’re in the zone.
Haslem is an intriguing option off the bench, bringing grit and enforcement to a paint area that has been unruly. Heat head coach Spoelstra may slip into man-to-man coverage more often in Game 3, keeping the Lakers guessing, off-balance. If Dragic and/or Adebayo find a way to suit up, that’s a beautiful bonus. Miami might not win the game, but it’s highly likely the outcome is decided on the final possession on Sunday.