chris.herring (Chris Herring, Senior Sportwriter): Well, this NBA season that went inside a bubble and is adored to survive the entire calendar year will officially start the final round tonight. The Lakers-hit almost certainly no one would think we don’t have a matchup. But it’s full of stories for whatever reason – and one looks like it could honestly move on anyway, no matter how well Miami has played against high-seed competition during the postseason.
What are you all interested in starting tonight’s finals? What strikes you as the biggest key in all of this?
Dubin (Jared Dubin, Five Thirty Eight contributors): I’m a huge fan, so I’m most interested in seeing how teams organize themselves defensively. Does the balm start with Adebayo Anthony Davis, or do they try to hide it a bit? Does that protect Croder Davis or LeBron James? And how the Lakers deploy LeBron, Danny Green and Cantavius Caldwell-Pope against Goran Draghi, Jimmy Butler and Duncan Robinson / Tyler Hero. I can’t imagine LA LeBron chasing Robinson all night or dealing with as many ball-screens as Dragie uses, so I imagine he’ll actually spend some time on Jimmy.
chris.herring: Match series and X and OS are amazing in this series, aren’t they? And the stuff that we’ll see at the beginning is probably just about to get started.
dre.waters (Andreas Waters, Five Thirty Eight contributors): In terms of matchups, I’m interested to see how Heat tries to slow down LeBron as well. They brought in people like Crowder and Andre Igudala specifically for this type of series… so how would they use it defensively?
I imagine they would both spend most of their time on LeBron defense.
Dubin: There will be a big swing in this series that the heat decides to use the crouder on LeBron or on AD. Davis does a better job against big men, so it might make some sense to keep Crowder on him, but even the hit probably doesn’t want Jimmy to deal with his LeBron all night.
chris.herring: Not that he has an immediate connection, but remember that clip of LeBron on the free-throw line when frustration showed that Leonard was ever back in the game to defend him? Your point, however, is to assign a caliber of LeBron or even Butler caliber for a perfect game. Expect to see different people with those responsibilities at night.
One thing that interests me curiously here is how aggressive the upswing is – something that has been considered important in recent years in this series. The Lakers are often playing two traditional bigs at a time and the heat is just dropping their butts off repeatedly. This zone defense Miami plays, it also becomes a little more dangerous for that reason.
Dubin: The Celtics lost the offensive board about 30 percent of their last series, far more than the Heat’s two previous playoff opponents. The fact that Miami played so much of the zone certainly contributed to that, and if they go the heavy zone against the Lakers, they could invite a little trouble there.
That said, the whole point of the zone is to cut the cuts of the paint, and that would be the best chance of a hit to win the series. If they can turn it into a 3-point shooting competition, I think it’s really good for them.
chris.herring: That’s a good thing.
dre.waters: On the other hand, though, if the Miami Lakers beat the offensive end, they definitely have a cold shoot to pay for. Butler, Crowder, Igudala, Draghi, Robinson and Hero are all shooting more than 34 percent from the 3-point range.
chris.herring: Shooting outside the Lakers never really became their strong point, although Bron’s late hot streak was how he ultimately kept the Nuggets away.
Dubin: KCP’s shooting during the playoffs in the mid-40’s was in stark contrast to his usual 30’s and 30’s. Rajon Rondo is shooting more than 40 percent on almost three attempts in the game.
chris.herring: This would be such a horrible time to withdraw the meaning of any one of them.
Dubin: Danny Green, on the other hand, would have a great time with average growth.
chris.herring: A critical factor in trying to understand this matchup: they played with each other in December about 10 months ago.
Dubin: Kendrick Nunn and Meyers Leonard were still in the starting lineup! James Johnson defended LeBron in the first matchup! Quinn Cook protects Draghi!
Those were the good old days.
dre.waters: That sounds like a long time ago. Much has changed for Miami since then.
chris.herring: It was preceded in two sittings, by heat throat and neck or halftime. But each time, the Lakers had a third quarter big, with one winning by 10 and the other by 11.
Eric Spolstra is a fantastic coach, and if anything, this run proved just how great he is. But the Heat was a pretty weak half-team during the season, while the Lakers were relatively solid in that respect. Miami has dropped 18 NBA-high games in which it has a lead of at least 10 points.
Not sure if it’s a focal point, or just that heat change saves a lot of midgames, which can turn on or off any faucet for an opponent. But it will be interesting to see if they take the lead against LA and when they can get the job done
Dubin: I wonder how many of them came in pre-intervals and how many came in bubbles. The realizations aren’t number one, but it looks like they’ve been a team making a comeback in the playoffs, not allowing opponents in the team to get back into it.
chris.herring: There certainly seems to be something true with the Eastern Conference Clinic. I have chosen Miami in this series – partly because they have played so well against what they consider to be good competition and partly off experience.
dre.waters: I really like Miami too. In terms of the game outside of their best player (s), they have been much more consistent than me. And, as Chris says, it was the opposite of better competition – the top-ranked Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics.
Dubin: I think we can say that “the Lakers have two of the best players in the series but [opponent] Now the next five or six ”LA so far about each series. How much do we think in the series in which LeBron and Eddie will probably play about 40 minutes a night?
chris.herring: I’m at least concerned about the heat’s ability to produce a constant offense against this lacquer defense. It all depends a lot on what kind of look you have as an Adebayo shooter and passerby. And a lot of that depends on the Lakers ’defensive approach, which, as Jared mentions, will involve Davis for a long time.
Jared, you didn’t even like Miami?
Dubin: No one has asked me to make a decisive choice, except to count this right here. I think I lean a little towards the Lakers, but mostly because I think picking against LeBron is kind of stupid and not because I think the Lakers are really better.
Dubin: (I’m not calling you boys stupid if it sounds like that. I just like LeBron, not stupid.)
He always picks hard against LeBron, but someone had to do it, right?
chris.herring: Yes. If anything, I think the burden of proof here will be on the people picking against the team with the two best players.
That’s part of why I’m still shocked and confused that our projection model thinks the Lakers very little, as it has for a while. I listened to our podcast the other day, on which Neil Payne gave the best understanding of what he could do. But I still can’t fully understand it.
I think we’re right there, though: if Miami wins, it’s mostly because of their depth depth compared to the Lakers ’depth.
Dubin: Yes, I would say that if the hit wins, it will be because of their 3-point shooting – but that shooting is coming from the depths.
chris.herring: LeBron and Eddie go into a 60 or 70 joint every night, and it’s pretty easy to imagine that was likely enough.
I was very close to putting Duncan Robinson as my MVP choice.
dre.waters: There are six people in Miami who can average double-digit points in this series. And that may really be enough.
chris.herring: I took Miami in sixth. I also have Robinson, sm.
Dubin: I’m interested to see if Robinson has yet another bad Game 1 and then he hits a number of thrashings within the first minute of Game 2.
dre.waters: Chris and I are on the same page today સિવાય except for MVP pick Robinson. Yes yes yes.
I also have a sixth hit. But that’s mostly because I don’t know if they can top LeBron in all-or-nothing Game 7.
Dubin: That sounds weird to say, but I think the most important players in the series could be Croder-Hero-Robinson and Green-KCP-Markiff Morris-Alex Caruso-Rondo. Just, who among those groups gets the best shooting.
chris.herring: We have largely avoided the narrative story of the Pet Relay / LeBron stuff. I think people will hear it enough elsewhere. But I want to at least ask this one: How much more will these finals win LeBron’s legacy?
He cites Kobe Bryant and Bubble Passing as the most challenging season of his career, which I think we all understand. I can also imagine that many critics would look at the slate lying next to them and say that the Lakers, by no fault of their own, have not finished playing any of the most influential teams this past season. To win the title.
Dubin: I don’t know if the Clippers and Bucks didn’t take care of the business it’s their fault. If anything, doing so in a bubble is almost more effective than doing it at home.
chris.herring: I said by no fault of their own!
dre.waters: I think a better question given the issue Chris is currently making is how will the loss of the other finals damage his legacy?
Dubin: Everyone knows that losing before the finals is better for your legacy than losing in the finals.
Jared is right
Dubin: In all seriousness, the idea that victory or defeat should change LeBron’s legacy doesn’t make much sense to me. Even if that happens, he won’t wake up any better or worse player the day after the final game of the series. Indeed, it will only confirm the seniors of the people.
Then again, I said the same thing after the Cavs won his title, and that was the minority opinion that day.
chris.herring: There is almost certainly a lot of truth. Yet I think people raise more questions when you lose the final as a favorite.
Dubin: It reminds me of what happened after the recent Super Bowl, when people were finally ready to accept that Andy Reid is the best coach ever, as if everything had changed in one game.
chris.herring: One strange thing here, as we have all said, is that the Lakers are favored, but we will all go back and say that something special has happened with Miami. Unless you are on a mission you will not roll through the post-season like a hit.
I find it really hard to take them and XS and Os-Wise, physically wise, etc. against all the things you throw away.
Dubin: I can admit that unless credit is given to Pat Relay. No, I can never reach it.
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