In what should be a Finals match-up brimming with interesting storylines, the Los Angeles Lakers will be facing a tough-minded, gritty squad from South Beach. The fifth-ranked Miami Heat, led by Jimmy Butler and their brilliant coach Erik Spoelstra, has overcome the odds, beating the more favored teams in the Eastern Conference.
Much has been said about the Heat’s grind-it-out, no-nonsense culture, but they will be going up against the best team in the league right now. While the Lakers will surely bank on their two stars, their collective effort, and roster flexibility have been their greatest advantages in the playoffs.
Chase the offensive rebounds when the Heat use the zone defense
It’s not usual for an NBA team to use the zone defense, especially considering that they don’t have much practice time to set it up. But the Heat has been running the zone all year long, and they have mastered it enough to use it almost every game in the postseason. The zone has thrown Giannis Antetokounmpo out of his game and then helped the Heat turn back the Celtics in the Conference Finals.
But as we have seen every time, the zone defense has a glaring weakness. Securing the rebound won’t be easy, especially when you run around, covering every base that the ball is being passed to. The Celtics pounced on this as Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart would constantly get offensive rebounds off their teammates’ miss.
The Lakers cannot just stand around when one of them shoots the ball. If they could get a couple of offensive rebounds and convert, then the Heat will have some thinking to do.
Put the clamps on Adebayo
While it’s true that scoring is not Bam Adebayo‘s primary selling point, the Heat draw tons of energy when he makes his shots on offense. Miami’s offense becomes more unpredictable when Bam finds his shots, either through his semi-hooks or his dunks off lob passes from Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro.
It’s expected that Dwight Howard will be tasked with locking down Adebayo, with Anthony Davis probably taking over the job when the Lakers switch into a small-ball line-up. The Lakers have to pick a poison, and taking away Adebayo on offense is more important than what Lakers fans deem it to be.
Let Anthony Davis dominate
Even though the Heat’s defense has been solid in the playoffs, they haven’t faced a player like Davis who has every post move in his wide array of skills. Adebayo’s defensive versatility is the moving point for the Heat, but it remains to be seen how his 6’9 frame can withstand every move that Davis will throw at him.
Sure, LeBron will still put up the numbers even if the likes of Butler, Andre Iguodala, and Jae Crowder are itching to defend him. But Davis is the Lakers’ obvious trump card in this match-up, and they should use that advantage every single possession.