By Ollie Nash and Liam Melrose
Jimmy Butler had an all-time great performance in Game 3. Photo: NBA
Butler brings the heat to lift Miami over LA
Jimmy Butler put up an historic NBA Finals performance to lift the Miami Heat out of the gutter and drag them back into the series. Without fellow starters Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo it was up to Butler to deliver if the Heat were going to be any chance of putting one finger on the Larry O’Brien trophy.
He finished with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists in what was arguably the greatest performance of his career to date with the basketball world watching on. He was also great on the defensive end, finishing with two steals and two blocks.
After his impressive performance, Butler becomes just the third player in NBA history to record a 40-point triple double in the NBA Finals joining LeBron James and Jerry West. However, he was the first player to do so in a win.
Lakers lack of curveballs
Jimmy Butler was amazing in Game 3 and made some tough shots over some good Laker defence. However, he was allowed to continually have a one-on-one match-up, attack it in any way he liked and either score or get fouled. The Lakers never threw a double or any different defensive scheme. The old analogy applies here, how many times will you let someone punch you in the face before you throw something back or get out of the way?
In all sports around the world, if what you are doing is not working, do something different. The Lakers are experienced enough that they can change on the fly. For me, I would be doubling Jimmy more often and making Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk beat you. They’re all good three-point shooters and there’s a chance they make you pay, but at least it’s throwing something back at the haymakers Butler was delivering. Except for Olynyk who shot it well from behind the arc, Robinson was 3-10 from three, Herro 2-7 and Crowder 2-8, so it wasn’t as if they were catching fire. Make them beat you.
LeBron and the Lakers didn't have any answers in the end. Photo: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports
Lack of energy from LA
The one aspect of the Game 2 that stood out to me the most was the Lakers energy, particularly Anthony Davis. He had eight offensive rebounds, half of LA’s 16 as a team. In Game 3, Davis had just two and the Lakers had 11 as a team.
Their lack of energy was clear as day to start the game and it just started a domino effect. 10 first quarter turnovers for 11 Miami points ensued, Davis was immediately in foul trouble and they fell into a deficit. It’s hard to build energy mid-game when you are losing and have come out so flat. This meant the Lakers was playing catch-up and that’s a hard game to play against this Heat team, as they have shown throughout the playoffs.
A lack of energy should never be a problem in an NBA Finals game and I would be extremely worried if the Lakers had the same issue in Game 4.
Olynyk steps up when the Heat need him most
For a role player that averaged 8.2 points and 4.6 rebounds during the regular season, you can’t expect too much of an output in the playoffs regardless of how many minutes you play. However, over the past two games with star Heat center Bam Adebayo injured, Kelly Olynyk has taken his opportunity with both hands.
In Game 2 he became the first player to come off the bench and score 24 points and pull in at least nine rebounds in NBA Finals history. In Game 3 with Adebayo out he backed it up again, playing over 30 minutes and finishing with 17 points and seven rebounds. Way to step up when your team needs you most Kelly.
Cover Photo: Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE