Even in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers needed a little time to warm up, no pun intended. The Miami Heat capitalized on the Lakers’ sluggish start and took a double-digit lead in the first quarter. However, their early advantage was nothing compared to the lead the Lakers would go on to take on Wednesday night.
Behind a dominant 34-point performance from Anthony Davis, the Lakers were able to comfortably beat the Heat 116-98 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. That’s a pretty comfortable margin of victory, but it’s a poor reflection of how badly the game actually went for the Heat.
The Lakers led the Heat by 32 points in the third quarter, which was 19 points more than Miami’s biggest lead. Once the Lakers crawled back from their 13-point first-quarter deficit, they didn’t look back.
After trailing early in the first, the Lakers went on a 75-30 run pic.twitter.com/kDiufDTDWZ— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 1, 2020
According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Lakers are the first team to trail by double digits then lead by double digits at the end of the 1st half in a Finals game in the play-by-play era (since 1996-97). Once the Lakers got rolling, the Heat had no answer for them.
A big part of the reason the Lakers were so successful was their 3-point shooting. The Lakers shot 39.5% from behind the arc in Game 1 on 38 attempts, both of which are higher than their postseason averages. Danny Green led all Lakers in 3-point makes with three made 3-pointers in eight attempts. He finished the game a +21 in the box score, which was the second-highest plus-minus of the night behind Anthony Davis.
Better late than never, I suppose!
Green was one of five Lakers to finish the game in double figures. Alex Caruso (10) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (13), LeBron James (25) and Davis (34) were the others. In addition to James’ 25 points, he tallied 13 rebounds and 9 assists in his 252nd playoff appearance, which is now the second-most playoff appearances in NBA history. Tim Duncan was previously in second place with 251 appearances.
All in all, things went as well as they could have possibly gone for the Lakers in Game 1. The same can’t be said for the Heat, though, who lost two of their key players — Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo — to injury. Additionally, Jimmy Butler hurt his ankle, although he opted to play through his injury.
That being said, the game was well out of reach even before that happened. The Lakers looked like the better team, and they’ll hope to have a similar outing when Game 2 of this series is played on Friday. But either way, they’re now three wins away from a title.