A series that looked like it could be a sweep at one point has turned into a classic, with the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat heading to a Game 6 of the 2020 NBA Finals on Sunday night. Los Angeles won the first two games of the series and had a 3-1 lead going into Friday’s Game 5, but another Jimmy Butler-led effort by Miami extended this series at least one more game.
Butler had 35 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals to push Miami to a 111-108 victory in Game 5 and extend the series. He became the first player in NBA Finals history — and only the second in NBA playoff history (Gary Payton, 2000) — to post at least 35 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and five steals in a game.
The Heat needed every bit of Butler’s effort to hold off the Lakers, who are still favored to win the series. Los Angeles is a five-point favorite for Game 6, with a moneyline of -210 compared to the Heat’s +180. Let’s take a look at our Lakers vs Heat Game 6 betting preview.
Lakers Need Shooting
There are two significant factors for this game for the Lakers, with the biggest being the health of forward Anthony Davis. The 6-10 All-NBA first-teamer was hobbled by a heel injury in Game 5 and was largely ineffective down the stretch. He is leading the Lakers in scoring (28.1 points) and blocks (1.4 per game) in the playoffs, and his presence on the floor is big at drawing defensive attention, which is why he continued to play despite being hurt on Friday.
If Davis is unable to go or is limited, LeBron James is going to have to step up even more than he has. Down the stretch of Game 5, he was the Lakers’ sole option, which allowed Miami to focus its defensive attention on him. In the playoffs, James has been his usual outstanding self, leading the Lakers in rebounding (10.6 per game) and assists (8.7 per game) along with scoring 27.6 points.
But if the Lakers are going to pull this one out and win their 17th NBA title, they’re going to need the players around James and Davis to play better than they did in Game 5. James is at his best when he can see the floor and find the open man, but that open man has to hit shots. In Game 5, the seven Lakers other than Davis and James who played went a combined 14-of-46 from the floor, including 6-of-24 from three-point range. That won’t stop Miami from focusing on the big two.
On The Brink
Miami showed a lot of heart in Game 5, as it has throughout this series despite the odds being against it. That’s personified by Butler, who played 47 hard minutes in Game 5 and was clearly exhausted by the end of the contest. Butler is the heart and soul of the Heat, though the whole team is known by playing hard at all times.
Duncan Robinson had a huge game in Game 5, scoring 26 points, including 7-of-13 three-pointers. Finding open spots and being able to hit the shot when he gets them is a big plus for the Heat, giving Butler an outlet to pass to when he garners double-teams. Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn are also players who can heat up offensively to take some of the pressure off Butler to produce points.
Injuries have been a problem for Miami in the entire series, and they could be again. Bam Adebayo has played the last two games with a shoulder injury and hasn’t been the same player, averaging 14 points and 5.5 rebounds, clearly not the same player who was the best on the floor in the series win over Boston. Guard Goran Dragic is considered doubtful for Game 6 with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot that has kept him out since Game 1 of the series.
Lakers Win A Close One
There may have been a little letdown for the Lakers in Game 5, feeling like they were going to win the title that night. You won’t see that in this one. The same thing likely happened in Game 3 when they had a 2-0 lead, and James made sure to let his teammates know that Game 4 was a must-win contest, which the Lakers won.
Los Angeles will come out with a renewed fire, and the Heat will have to match that. Unfortunately, Butler just came up with a historic performance, and Robinson had a big scoring game in Game 5, and Miami only won by three despite a hobbled Davis. When the Lakers turn up the intensity, they’re hard to beat.
Miami won’t go quietly, but I see the Lakers coming out on top in this one, pulling away late to cover the five-point spread. Put your money on Los Angeles.