The Los Angeles Lakers will try to improve their defense when they face the shorthanded Miami Heat Sunday evening in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
The Lakers allowed the Heat to become the third team to record a “50-40-90” game in the NBA Finals, making at least 50% of their shots (36 of 71, 50.7%), 40% of their 3-point shots (11 of 27, 40.7%) and 90% of their free throws (31 of 34, 91.2%).
LeBron James said he, Anthony Davis and coach Frank Vogel “were not happy with our defensive presence” in Friday’s 124-114 victory, which gave the Lakers a two games to none lead in the best-of-seven series in pursuit of their 17th championship, which would tie the Boston Celtics for the all-time lead.
“We know we can be a lot better,” James said after scoring a game-high 33 points Friday, one more than Davis. “Myself and AD, we’re not satisfied with just the win. We want to be great. We know, not hopefully, we know we can be better in Game 3.”
Offensive rebounding and the related second-chance points were keys to the Game 2 victory. The Lakers led 16-6 in offensive rebounds and 21-14 in second-chance points.
“We didn’t rebound,” Miami forward Jimmy Butler said. “They were getting all types of offensive rebounds in the paint. We didn’t get back. Same thing as the first game. Eventually we’re going to have to fix it because that’s how we’re going to win.”
The Lakers also led in points in the paint, 56-46.
Perimeter shooting is another area the Lakers hope to improve in. They made 16 of their NBA Finals-record 47 3-point shots Friday.
“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,” Vogel said.
For the second consecutive game the Heat will be without two starters, point guard Goran Dragic and center Bam Adebayo.
“They both are making progress,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They’re not ready to play or compete in this game at this intensity level. But they really want to be there because they love their teammates and they have put their heart and soul into this.”
Dragic tore the plantar fascia ligament in his left foot in the second quarter of the Heat’s 116-98 loss in Game 1 Wednesday. An MRI revealed Adebayo has a neck strain on his left side, the team announced Thursday.
Although technically not a must-win game for Miami, it practically is. None of the 14 teams that have trailed three games to none have won the NBA Finals. Teams leading two games to one have won 48 of 59 times, 81.4%.
Game 4 of the best-of-seven series will be played Tuesday. The entire NBA postseason is being played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, due to the coronavirus pandemic.