There was a handful of reasons the Lakers fell to the Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, reasons that went beyond the incredible individual performance of Jimmy Butler (40 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists).
Overall, the Heat shot 51.2% from the field, the second-highest shooting percentage the Lakers have allowed in the postseason, and had 25 assists on 41 field goals, the third-most the team has allowed in the playoffs.
Beyond Butler’s individual brilliance, something was amiss with the Lakers defensively. Anthony Davis thinks he knows what it is: the Lakers were not talking. And when they were not talking, they were not helping defensively and the Heat exploited that lack of help.
“You can’t really tell if someone is communicating on film, but you can tell, if you kind of get what I mean,” Davis said. “You can tell we wasn’t. We were off in our coverages. They were setting screens and slipping to the rim without no one guarding them. We were over-helping. We were having blown coverages.
“There was a lot of space on the floor for guys to drive to the basket with no resistance, no help. Guys were hung up on their man. You could tell that we weren’t ourselves defensively.”
That, it seems, was obvious:
Anthony Davis Had Three Fouls in First Half
Certainly, Davis was not himself in the game, addled with foul trouble and a lack of aggressiveness that followed. Davis took only nine shots in the game, making six, and scored 15 points. That is the second-fewest points he has scored in his playoff career. He scored 13 points in Game 5 of the Lakers’ conference semifinals series against the Rockets, a blowout win in which Davis did not need to score much.
Davis put the bulk of the Lakers’ loss on his own shoulders, noting that they would have won and held a commanding 3-0 series lead if he had played up to snuff. Davis committed three fouls in the first quarter-and-a-half of the game, two coming on offensive charges. Davis sat out for the final 5:28 of the second quarter.
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He took only one shot and did not score in the fourth quarter.
“It sucks just because you know if you play well and had done your job, then you possibly could have won the game,” Davis said. “It always sucks when you lose, and especially when you don’t play well. You know, you look at tape and you try to figure out ways to be better to get prepared for next game.”
Also, there was this diss by Kyle Kuzma:
Anthony Davis: ‘We Can’t Allow Easy Points’
Even if Davis plays better offensively in Game 4, though, the issue of the Lakers’ poor defensive performance remains. The Lakers won Game 2 of this series handily, but they did allow Miami to shoot 50.7% in that game, marking back-to-back 50% efforts allowed. The Lakers allowed 50% shooting only 13 times this season.
Obviously, the Lakers need to down the Heat’s shooting and communication will be a major part of that.
“We have to be a lot better,” Davis said. “We can’t allow easy points. The game is already hard enough. Teams are going to make tough shots, but we can’t allow them to get easy looks at the rim when no one is guarding them or not helping our guys, if a small is on Jimmy or a big is on a guard and knowing that their chances are pretty high that they’re going to blow by them. We’ve got to protect each other. We have to help each other, and that wasn’t the case last night, and a big reason why we lost.”