Tonight could very well be the night we see a team crowned as a champion. There's nothing like waking up on the day your favorite team has the ability to close out a Finals and win an NBA championship. I've personally been on both ends of the spectrum and I can tell you they were two of the most stressful days of my entire life. You're excited, you're nervous, the clock refuses to move, you're restless, it's a whole thing. Now personally I've never had the privilege of seeing my team enter a close out Finals game with a 3-1 series lead so I imagine Lakers fans aren't really "nervous" because if they lose tonight it's mostly whatever. Try making it through the day if it were a Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Shit takes years off your life.
So with that in mind let's get you ready for Game 5
Los Angeles Lakers (3-1) vs Miami Heat (1-3) 9:00pm ET
First question I have. Did the Miami Heat disappear? They still exist right? I had to double check to make sure they were actually playing tonight and I didn't miss some sort of black hole situation where they fell off the face of the earth or something. I ask because you would never be able to tell given how this game is currently being promoted
To talk about Game 5 and only mention one team is hilarious. If you keep scrolling ESPN's timeline, these are the tweets that came immediately before that video
I mean jesus christ ESPN keep it in your goddamn pants. There is another team playing tonight that has actually shown to be pretty competitive outside of Game 1 of this series. I would be doing nothing but showing this shit to Jimmy Butler from now until tip off. Even if it's more than likely that the Lakers close the deal tonight, try not being so fucking obvious about it.
There are really only a few things to factor in with the Lakers tonight. First, the Mamba jerseys. They haven't lost in those bad boys all playoffs and switched things up to rock them tonight. That's some PED type shit. You combine that with the fact that the league did not assign Scott Foster/Tony Brothers to this game to maybe extend it, and things don't look great for the Heat.
From a basketball standpoint, a game like this is why you got LeBron and AD. This feels like it's pretty important on a day like today
Now this is kind of fucked because it basically discredits all the help his teammates gave in those wins, but the facts are that in a closeout opportunity LeBron usually seals the deal. You add in a guy like AD who has been just as much of a monster in this series, and it's hard to not be excited as a Lakers fan. The gameplan shouldn't change much, give those two the ball and get the fuck out of the way. Let LeBron hunt out Duncan Robinson on switches, let AD abuse whatever small defender comes his way, you don't have to reinvent the wheel.
But all that attention will mean the "others" for the Lakers will have their opportunity to step up and be the icing on the cake. They were a huge reason why the Lakers were able to pull out Game 4 because they finally knocked down shots. Here's how some of their main guys did with their open looks
KCP: 2-2 on open threes
Kuzma: 2-3 on open threes
Danny Green: 2-3 on wide open threes
Marieff Morris: 2-3 on wide open threes
If the Lakers are able to have that sort of production on their clean looks, it's going to be a wrap for the Heat. If you remember, guys like KCP/Green struggled on their looks in Game 3, and as a result the Lakers offense struggled. If they can find a way to make their timely open looks like in Game 4, they'll be champs.
For MIA, you can't panic. One game at a time. Win tonight, put a little pressure on the Lakers to close it out and who knows what happens. It may feel like the deck is stacked against them right now, but this is not a soft team. These guys are going to scratch and claw until the end.
To pull it off they are going to need Game 3 Jimmy Butler and not Game 4 Jimmy Butler. That doesn't really feel fair because Game 4 Jimmy Butler was still really really good, but they need him to replicate that supernova level. It's really their only chance. That and pray that Duncan Robinson/Herro somehow snap out of their shooting slump. Robinson is shooting 25% on wide open threes and Herro 11%. That obviously needs to change.
Defensively, I'd be hesitant to rely on that zone. LeBron is picking that shit apart, and now with Bam back you're better off going man to man. It felt like they did more of that in Game 4 and they were able to be competitive until the final minutes. Individual defense is going to be important because you KNOW LeBron is going to be uber aggressive and try and live at the line. It's why he's so tough in closeout games. They did a good job of defending without fouling in Game 4, the Lakers only took 21 FTA.
It's going to take a miracle there's no doubt about that, but I'm not going to rule out that the Heat can extend this series. Avoid the offensive droughts if you can, attack the paint and hope your threes fall. If that happens we very well could see a Game 6. Probably won't happen, but we can dream.