LeBron James, Lakers take 3-1 NBA Finals lead: These three sequences present how shut Miami was to tying collection

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The Miami Warmth fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 102-96 in Recreation Four of the NBA Finals on Tuesday, and now path within the collection 3-1, however it was not for lack of effort. Miami performed its proverbial coronary heart out. They have been masterful defensively, from each an effort and execution standpoint.

The Warmth battled LeBron James and Anthony Davis pre-catch and doubled laborious, and typically late, after the catch. They recovered from these doubles and challenged photographs. They stayed in entrance of penetrators for probably the most half. They communicated on switches and held their very own on the boards, regardless of some well timed offensive rebounds and second- and third-chance factors for the Lakers that have been fairly deflating.

Offensively, the Warmth simply did not shoot it effectively sufficient from past the arc (11-for-32). As soon as the Lakers began going beneath on Jimmy Butler ball screens, the Warmth had plenty of issue stepping into the paint with sufficient leverage to create kick-out shot alternatives, and Davis, along with taking the one-on-one problem of guarding Butler, protected the rim like a maniac when Miami did get in there. Finally, the Warmth have been swimming upstream a lot of the second half and simply ran out of breath. A valiant effort, no query.

That mentioned, there are not any ethical victories within the NBA Finals, and Miami had this recreation in its sights. A coach will all the time let you know a loss by no means comes down to 1 play or one possession, or perhaps a few performs or possessions, however that is not precisely true. Sure, there’s so much that occurs over a 48-minute basketball recreation, plenty of which we simply mentioned within the first three paragraphs.

However the backside line is after all of the mud settles, the margin in so many of those video games is razor skinny. A pair factors right here or there will be, and sometimes is, the distinction. In Recreation 4, there have been three sequences specifically that swung the improper course for the Warmth, who may effectively have been ready to win this recreation and tie the collection had these few seconds — actually — gone otherwise.

1. Finish-of-third-quarter catastrophe

Miami had the ball down by three, with the shot clock off, because the third quarter wound down. On this scenario, above all else, you make sure you are taking the final shot. Should you join on the shot, you will be down one or tied. Should you miss, you go into the fourth quarter, at worst, nonetheless down three. Both means, the Lakers shouldn’t get one other likelihood to attain, beneath any circumstances, earlier than the third-quarter buzzer sounds. As a substitute, this occurs:

So let’s go over this: Slightly than bleeding the clock down, the Warmth are urgent their luck from the beginning of this possession, passing the ball all around the courtroom, risking a turnover or wild shot. Maybe that may be justified by the truth that they did, for a second, have a 5-on-Four benefit whereas Davis lagged behind after falling on his earlier shot try. However as soon as nothing materialized, Miami ought to have pulled the ball out and brought the final shot. As a substitute, Herro got here sprinting off a display screen and fired up a tricky, contested 3-pointer with eight seconds nonetheless on the clock.

Herro missed, after which Bam Adebayo went recklessly crashing into Davis attempting to get an offensive rebound he was by no means going to get. Davis will get knocked to the bottom. The Lakers are within the bonus. Davis makes the 2 free throws, and instantly Miami goes from being tied if that Herro shot goes in to being down 5 getting into the fourth quarter. That may be a large swing, notably at that juncture of the sport.

The next clip exhibits what was, arguably, the Lakers’ worst offensive possession of the sport, and so they got here out of it with three factors. First, Kendrick Nunn cuts off Rajon Rondo’s drive, then Jimmy Butler cuts off LeBron, forcing a cross out from the baseline. Alex Caruso catches it and goes right into a choose and roll, which Miami simply controls, and Caruso’s cross bounces off Markieff Morris.

The shot clock is now winding down, and Morris has to enter a one-on-one pull-up 3-pointer with lower than three seconds on the shot clock. It’s an extremely low-percentage shot, and I will be damned if Olynyk would not take the bait on a determined pump-fake and bail Morris out by fouling him on a 3-point try.

You possibly can see the time and rating right here. We’re beneath 10 minutes to play and the Warmth seemingly go from down one — as Morris most likely misses that shot — to down 4 when he sinks all three free throws. Do not get me began on what a bogus rule that is {that a} shooter can utterly manipulate his movement to leap INTO the defender and get rewarded for it, however these are the principles. Olynyk is aware of the principles. And this was a serious blunder. And one other essential three-point swing.

3. Butler misses, KCP makes

No person did something improper on this closing sequence, however it was a large swing no much less. You hear the phrase “make or miss league” and that is what it means. On one finish, the Warmth are down two and have a shot to take the lead on a Butler 3-pointer with three minutes to play. Butler misses, and on the opposite finish, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hits a 3-pointer from the nook to place the Lakers up 4.

You possibly can see the Lakers conceding that shot to Butler, whose lack of ability to shoot from 3-point distance, for as nice as he is taking part in, is changing into an issue as this collection goes on. However Butler senses this can be a pivotal second for Miami, and he is proper. So he goes towards his regular shot self-discipline — or hesitancy, for those who favor that classification — and fires the 3-pointer, and if he makes it and the Warmth take the lead with three minutes to play, this can be a very totally different ballgame down the stretch. As a substitute, he misses, KCP hits, and we go from Miami up one to down 5. That is one other six-point swing.

Run the numbers on the primary two sequences — the end-of-third-quarter swing and the Olynyk foul — and the Lakers gained, at a minimal, 5 factors that they completely shouldn’t have scored. This closing sequence was one other six-point swing within the Lakers’ course. All instructed, that is a 11-point swing. The Warmth misplaced by six. You do the mathematics.

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