The Los Angeles Lakers made a statement in Game 1 of the 2020 NBA Finals, blowing out the Miami Heat 116-98 in a matchup that was not as close as the final score might suggest.
Anthony Davis continued his dominant playoff run with a masterful two-way performance in his Finals debut. The Heat stormed through the Eastern Conference playoffs with their small-ball lineup headlined by Bam Adebayo, but they had no answers for Davis’ size and length in the paint.
Davis was unstoppable around the rim, getting loose for dunks and shots en route to a game-high 34 points. He was also perfect from the free throw line as he drained all 10 attempts while adding nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks.
LeBron James was no slouch himself as he was relentless in driving to the basket throughout the night. Miami has capable wing defenders in Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala, but James was able to get switches and immediately went to work.
The three-time NBA champion recorded a near triple-double (25 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists) and snuffed out a late Heat comeback after scoring on two isolation possessions. He also had a strong shooting night, converting on 9-of-17 from the field and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe.
The Lakers backcourt was a massive boost in Game 1 as Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were able to hit shots from beyond the arc, effectively busting the Heat zone that had given previous teams trouble. The duo combined for 24 points on 5-of-14 shooting from distance.
Dwight Howard started in place of JaVale McGee and gave the team solid minutes when he was on the floor, corralling Miami’s drives and grabbing eight defensive rebounds. He only scored two points, but his energy and effort helped blow the game open in the third quarter.
Winning the free throw and outside shooting battles is something the Heat have gotten used to this postseason, but the Lakers were held that advantage in Game 1. Miami hit 11 threes and free throws apiece while L.A. nailed 15 threes and 25 free throws.
What’s next for Lakers
Even with the game out of hand, the Lakers took their foot off the gas pedal that gave the Heat some life in what was an uneventful fourth quarter. While they will happily take the win, giving team’s confidence heading into the next game is inexcusable, especially with such a large lead.
Miami is dealing with injuries to Adebayo, Butler and Goran Dragic, but Los Angeles must continue to play with force and full effort if they want to take a 2-0 lead.
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