Finals MVP LeBron James recorded yet another decisive triple-double en route to earning his fourth NBA title as the Los Angeles Lakers were dominant during their 13-point Game 6 win vs. the Miami Heat overnight – a side packed with plenty of promise but ultimately falling short.
MIAMI HEAT 93-106 LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Bam Adebayo – 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists
LeBron James – 28 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists
Lakers end Orlando bubble with a bang
This result had an air of inevitability, unlike the scenes 16 months ago in Oakland – where the Toronto Raptors won their first NBA title against the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
That four-point victory was described as a remarkable road win, even with the Warriors being both battered and depleted like this year’s Miami were by the time these Finals rolled around.
Goran Dragic (plantar fascia tear) made his return from injury but was heavily strapped, visibly playing on fumes and only able to score five points on 2-of-8 shooting in 19 minutes.
For context, the 34-year-old led the team in scoring (20.8 ppg) before the Lakers series began.
Bam Adebayo (neck, shoulder) and Jimmy Butler (ankle) both had injuries of their own, the former missing crucial minutes during this series – yet Miami were unprepared to make excuses.
If they were going to lose, they’d go down fighting and that dynamic for an intriguing matchup many weren’t expecting upon first viewing. One thing that really hurt their productivity though, was the inconsistency of their role players.
In Game 5, most were firing on all cylinders and able to make clutch plays down the stretch in an environment where every possession counts. After all, it was their first elimination game.
Game 6 though, the Lakers cleaned up their turnovers, shot the ball better and Rajon Rondo exploded as part of a second unit that had previously underwhelmed. Miami had no answer.
He scored 19 points – his second best postseason high this year – while creating four assists and grabbing four rebounds during a purposeful showing where he happily punished their defence.
Last Friday, the entire Lakers bench combined for 14 points on 5-of-22 shooting.
If not for Rondo’s sustained efforts after returning from injury, who knows how they would have fared when the LeBron-AD tandem wasn’t on top form?
It’s no wonder Kyle Kuzma posted this, knowing full well he was crucial to this title:
Anthony Davis wasn’t at 100%, yet still produced a double-double (19 pts, 15 rebounds).
Meanwhile there was increased scoring from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Danny Green redeemed himself after his big Game 5 miss late on was heavily scrutinised worldwide.
There are multiple avenues that can be explored with the Lakers’ victory.
Perhaps you believe this triumph has strengthened LeBron’s case as the sport’s best ever player; AD elevating his game after last season’s messy trade from New Orleans, the never-ending pursuit of a third star and more besides. But ultimately, Miami ran out of steam.
Miami’s admirable efforts fell agonisingly short
It’s not exactly surprising given what they had to do, just to push this series to six games anyway. Jimmy Butler played a game-high 45 minutes and just like Friday, needed to.
He had 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting – his lowest scoring tally since Game 4 of their first-round win over Indiana, where he exited with a shoulder sprain.
Yet it was he who had the most assists (8), didn’t shy away from the offensive responsibilities – even if his positional awareness on defence was rather tired and lacklustre.
After a frustrating Game 5 display, Bam Adebayo responded determined as he’s done before.
25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks to his name, you couldn’t really attribute blame his way.
Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn – all sharpshooting guards with contrasting roles and expectations, struggled.
Between them, they had 25 points on 9-of-26 shooting and eight turnovers. To put that into perspective, Robinson had 26 (8/15) by himself in their previous victory.
Since taking many people by surprise during their five-game series victory over Milwaukee, Jae Crowder has regularly flattered to deceive.
He averaged 11.2 points on 44.6% FG against the Lakers, but his inability to knock down threes at a more consistent clip and knack for picking up cheap fouls was another factor which ultimately hurt Miami.
What’s next, for both teams?
While their head coach Erik Spoelstra was emotional post-game, Butler vowed that Miami will be back. No-one expected them to get this far in the first place.
It’ll be interesting to see how their core develops and what moves they make, to not only remain competitive but be even better next year.
With the Warriors getting their two stars back to full strength in 2021, the Clippers keen to avenge their embarrassing WCSF defeat by Denver and more storylines to follow besides, the Lakers cannot afford to rest on their laurels. But before that, they deserve to celebrate a job well done.
LeBron’s brilliance reigned supreme as the lights shone brightest. Who else was it going to be?
Pictures’ source: Bleacher Report, NY Times, WPLG Local 10