The Los Angeles Lakers put on a dominant showing in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, defeating the Miami Heat 116-98. L.A. were extra determined to win the curtain-raiser and set the tone for the series against the resilient Miami team.
The Lakers dropped Game 1 in two first series of the postseason against the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets. They would then bounce back in the next meeting after taking a closer look at their performance and implementing changes to the game plan.
But in their first NBA Finals appearance in 10 years, L.A. erred on the side of caution and made sure they would start the deciding moment of their championship pursuit on a high note. Hence, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel decided to stick with the starting lineup including Dwight Howard at the center position, which did extremely well to close out the series with the Denver Nuggets.
“We wanted to win Game 1,” Vogel said. “We typically start a series kind of traditional, the way we would throughout the regular season, and we’ve done that a few times throughout these playoffs. But (Miami) is 6-0 in the first two games of the playoff series in each round.”
Vogel further explained he decided to play just one of his two centers against the Heat so the second unit could switch to a smaller lineup and match Miami’s size on the floor. And he opted to leave Howard in the starting lineup considering his contribution against the Nuggets.
“Dwight had a great finish in the Denver series,” Vogel said. “He’s a physical, imposing presence on one of their best players in Bam Adebayo, so we decided to go with Dwight in the role.”
Anthony Davis echoed Vogel’s emphasis on the importance of a strong start to the series and he welcomes a Game 1 win. But the All-Star forward also poined out Miami’s explosiveness which could prove dangerous later in the Finals if the Lakers allow their intensity to fluctuate as it did in Game 1.
The Heat started strong and were up 13 points in the first quarter before falling 32 points behind the Lakers. But Miami then outscored L.A. 31 to 21 in the fourth period, cutting the lead to 13.
“We can’t come out sluggish knowing this team is a team that could get hot for three, and get to the free throw line and get to the paint,” Davis said. “We have to be able to come out a little bit more aggressive and come out with a little more sense of urgency, and that’s on the starters, especially me and ‘Bron.
“We’re not satisfied. We don’t like how we ended the game. That wasn’t a championship mentality, and you know, we have to be better in that regard.”
Markieff Morris mentions Davis ‘best player in the world’
Davis dominated in Game 1 against Miami, ending the night with 34 points, nine rebounds and five assists. The All-Star forward continues his tremendous form this postseason alongside three-time NBA champion LeBron James.
Davis has improved so much in his first year in L.A. that his teammates are left wondering whether he might not only be the best player on the Lakers roster but perhaps even in the entire league.
“It’s easy for A.D. Like I’ve been saying, honestly if you ask me, we’ve got LeBron, but I think he’s the best player in the world,” Morris said. “He does it on both ends and does it consistently every night. He gives you what you ask for every night.”
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