The Los Angeles Lakers have not been known as a prolific or overly successful 3-point shooting team. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way, and head coach Frank Vogel creating the game plan, defense has been the top priority above all else.
However, Game 2 of the NBA Finals strayed from that in a big way, as the defense struggled to stop the Miami Heat and L.A. broke records behind the arc.
The Lakers attempted a franchise and NBA Finals record 47 3-pointers, making 16 of them (34%). That’s nothing to be amazed by, but it continued a trend of dominance so long as the team isn’t abysmal from deep.
The Lakers are 14-0 during the current playoffs when they shoot over 30% from three and 0-3 when they don’t.
They have been encouraged to let it fly as the Heat go to a zone defense, which was a significant factor in the record-setting Game 2. “I thought we attacked offensively really well,” Vogel said.
“We had a poor shooting night from perimeter, but I liked the quality of the shots for the most part and even having a poor shooting night, we still end up with an offensive rating of 136. So I was pleased with what we did at that end of the floor. Obviously you can always get better on both sides but defensively we have to be better.”
Despite the Lakers not faring particularly well from 3, Davis emphasized not becoming too discouraged. “It’s tough because we are open a lot. They want you to shoot the three, and our shooters were a little bit off tonight. But we hit some big threes to kind of keep that lead,” he noted.
“We are doing a good job of getting in the teeth of the zone and finding guys. We’re going to continue to encourage our guys to shoot those shots. If you’re open, there should be no hesitation whether you should shoot the three or not, no matter if you’re 0-for-10 or 0-for-whatever. You want you to keep shooting because we know those shots are going to fall for us.
“When we get it in the middle of the zone it’s about making the right read. Myself, ‘Bron and Rondo, we’re usually in the middle of the zone and we’re either going to find out shooters or have layups or find a guy that’s going baseline to baseline.”
Struggles directly applied to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Danny Green, who combined for a horrible 3-of-19 from three. The rest of the team shot 13-for-28 from the same distance. However, Davis is right that those two guys need to continue to shoot the basketball regardless of result, as making those shots will be the only way to get the Heat out of the zone.
Vogel sees championship mindset in Davis
If there was any doubt before the postseason began about Davis’ history in big games, it’s gone now, as Davis has taken his game to a whole new level during the playoffs.
“His mindset is he wants to be a champion, and he’s extremely motivated to play at a high level and you’re seeing it every time he steps on to the floor,” Vogel said.
“Obviously defensively, he’s a unicorn, in my opinion, Defensive Player of the Year. But his shot making, the many ways that he can hurt you offensively in the post, throwing to the basket, working the baseline like he did against the zone, working the middle, shooting threes from the perimeter is just very unique.
“You can just see his determination to win this championship on both sides of the ball. I thought tonight you saw even more on the offensive end.”
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