Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers overcame a bit of a sluggish start and eventually imposed their will on the Miami Heat, cruising to a 116-98 win in Game 1 of the 2020 NBA Finals that was not as close as the final score may suggest.
Davis got off to a good start in his first Finals appearance, hitting a three on the left wing and a short midrange jumper, but Miami took control with their offensive execution. Live ball turnovers and poor defense led to a sudden 13-0 Heat run, a troubling early sign for the Lakers.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was able to give Los Angeles a boost after knocking down a pair of corner threes against the Miami zone, but Jae Crowder answered with one of his own. Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso keyed a 13-0 run for L.A. and they managed to take a 31-28 lead after one.
The Laker bench continued their solid play behind threes from Rondo and Kyle Kuzma, but Tyler Herro knocked consecutive triples to keep the Heat close. Miami’s defense seemed keen on letting Los Angeles shoot from beyond the arc.
While the Lakers previously had trouble connecting from the perimeter, that was not the case in the second quarter. Their defense also picked up with Davis back in the game, getting stops and out into early offense that spurred another 13-0 run in the Lakers’ favor.
Each team was able to generate turnovers down the stretch, but L.A. walked into halftime with a 65-48 lead.
The difference in size and strength was apparent to begin the third as the Lakers muscled their way in the paint for offensive rebounds and putbacks that extended their lead to 26 points. Dwight Howard had a much better showing, blocking a Herro jumper and following it up with a dish to Davis for a dunk.
Bam Adebayo was forced to come out of the game due to what later was diagnosed as a right shoulder strain, making it tough for Miami to make a dent in the massive deficit. Goran Dragic also never returned after suffering a left foot injury.
Rondo and Caldwell-Pope looked like they sustained injuries of their own, but they both returned and the Lakers went into the final period up 93-67.
The Heat did a good job of making a quick spurt to begin the fourth with Kendrick Nunn providing some much-needed scoring to trim the Laker lead to 20. However, L.A. quickly responded by going back to Davis in the paint, putting the game further out of reach.
Though, Miami made another push late in the fourth quarter before simply running out of time.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!