Free Picks: Los Angeles Lakers vs Miami Heat

Lakers won the series 4-2

The Los Angeles Lakers won their 17th championship in franchise history, after a  106-93 over the Miami Heat in game 6, ending a long and mentally hard season. Lebron James led the new champs with a triple-double of 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, claiming his 4th NBA title and the Finals MVP award.

Game 1

September 30th, 9:00 P.M.

If the Los Angeles Lakers have had one weakness during this 2020 playoff run, it has been their play in game ones. They have lost two of three series openers thus far, losing Game 1 against both the Trail Blazers and Rockets. Miami on the other hand has not lost a game 1 to this point in the 2020 NBA Playoffs.

Both teams should be relatively fresh coming into this one, and in my opinion, that bodes well for the Heat early in this series. Their trio of Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo has been nothing short of spectacular on both ends of the floor and are playing with a will to win that has yet to be matched.

Let’s talk spreads. The Heat are 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 games, so my advice is to take the 4.5 points most sports betting sites are offering and root for a close game, regardless of the winner. Erik Spoelstra is one of the most underrated coaches in the league and I expect his knowledge of Lebron from their time together with Miami to help the Heat slow down James early in Game 1. At some point he is going to break out, he is Lebron James, but the hustle and depth of the Heat will be most effective and give them their best shot at containing Lebron and Anthony Davis early in the series.

Take the Heat and the points. mybookie bet365 and Sports Interaction are all offering Miami at +4.5 at or close to even money. If you want to take Miami to win outright, you can get them at 2.64, 2.65 and 2.57 odds (coming from the sites in the same order as above).


Game 2

October 2nd, 21:00 P.M.

Quite simply, the Lakers dominated game one. They were the better team and they had the better execution. As the series moves to game two, the Heat desperately need a statement game to get back into it. Going down 0-2 would all but guarantee a Lakers championship.

It will be a tall task for Miami, and a lot will hinge on the injury status of Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic. Both payers are currently listed as doubtful for game two, and even if they are to play, odds are they will be far from the players they were before getting hurt.
If Miami is to even the series up, they will need a much better performance out of Tyler Herro in game two after having a hard time with the size of the Lakers in the opener. Will the Heat be able to lean on finals stalwart Andre Iguodala? They’re going to need someone to step up to fill the huge void currently staring them in the face.

As for the Lakers, they looked as good as the Heat looked bad in game one. Whether they can keep up their 3-point shooting efficiency remains to be seen, but if they continue to get solid bench additions from the likes of Rondo and Kuzma, the Heat are in trouble. The biggest factor in the Lakers favor though, Anthony Davis and Lebron James, again. It was Davis who excelled in game one, making it look easy all night en-route to 34 points and nine rebounds. Lebron’s 25 and 13 weren’t shabby either; if they can replicate those performances in game two the Heat are in for a long night.

Making a pick: The line for Game two is currently at Lakers -9.5. That is a LOT of points for a finals game, especially against a team with a star like Jimmy Butler. The Lakers proved that they are well-oiled machine in game one though, and with the Heat battling injuries and mismatches all over the court, I am going to have to take a deep breath and just ride with the Lakers. I also like the OVER 217 to hit. Even despite the Miami injuries and a slow finish from the Lakers, they total got to 214 in the opener. The Heat only had one player over 20 points (Jimmy Butler) and I expect Tyler Herro to add more than 14 and ingratiate himself into this series.


Game 3

October 4th, 19:30 P.M.

After covering the spread in games one and two, the Lakers are nearly 10-point favourites once again in game three. The total has also been bumped up nearly two points, sitting at 219.5.

Through two games in the finals the Lakers have been an offensive juggernaut, having an offensive rating of 126.3. For reference sake, that’s 11 points higher than the regular season leader. Through a combination of size and skill they have just flat out dominated. In order to get back into the series the Heat will need Bam Adebayo to be an impact player in his return from injury. His ability to lock down the paint could slow down the Lakers big men and result in some easy fast break buckets going the other way.

The talent of the Lakers is clearly too much for the Heat to handle, but if they can slow the game down and get back to basics, they could squeak out a win or at least keep the game close. Only four teams in NBA history have come back from down 2-0 in the finals, so the Heat will need something significant to turn this around. Shoring up their rebounding and decreasing the gap in three-pointers between the two teams is a good place to start. With the heart and tenacity they have shown thus far in the bubble, I have to ride with them once more and take the +9.5 points. Miami are 35-15-1 against the spread following a loss and 5-1 against the spread in their last six overall. Whether they can win this one remains to be seen, but I have to give Jimmy Butler the benefit of the doubt and bank on the Heat not going down without a fight.

Now by that logic, if the Heat are to keep the game close, they are going to have to slow things down and play much better defense. I will be taking the Under on the game total (219.5) and hoping the Heat make this a classic defensive battle.


Game 4

October 6th, 21:00 P.M.

Despite the loss in game three, the Los Angeles Lakers are still 14-4 in these playoffs. So, if Jimmy Butler’s words to Lebron at the end of game three – “You’re in trouble” – are going to hold any weight, Butler will need to duplicate his game three performance; and even that may not be enough.

A combination of uncharacteristic turnovers and fouls by the Lakers in game three were their downfall, Anthony Davis being the prime example. Davis played just 33 minutes and scored only 15 points due to early foul trouble in game three, and I don’t expect him to make that same mistake again. In the Lakers previous three losses these playoffs they have bounced back with three wins, averaging a winning margin of 12.3 points. I expect them to bounce back and win game four handily, taking a 3-1 series lead.

There are a couple of key factors that could swing the game in the Heat’s favor, however. The status of Bam Adebayo of course, the play of Kelly Olynyk, and whether Tyler Herro can finally return to the player we saw in the Eastern Conference Finals. Olynyk scored 17 points off the bench in 31 minutes for the Heat, and his offensive contributions were a much-needed boost to Jimmy Butler’s heroics. Herro also had 17 points, but if he were to emerge as a key factor in this series the Heat could win game four and tie the series.

That is a lot of things that need to go right for the Heat though, and I expect Anthony Davis and the Lakers to bounce back strong after the loss.
In terms of the total, the over came awfully close to hitting in game three despite Davis’ weak game and very little secondary scoring from the Heat. The total has dropped a point to 218.5 on and I like the Over.


Game 5

October 9th, 21:00 P.M.

Lebron James will look for his fourth NBA Championship in this one but will have to get through a Heat team that now has Bam Adebayo back in their lineup. Adebayo played 33 minutes in his return to action in game four, putting up 15 points and adding some much-needed defensive prowess to the Heat.

Jimmy Butler will need some help from the Heat’s secondary scorers and likely a better personal performance if the Heat are to extend the series. After a dominant 40-point performance in a game-three win, Butler came back to earth in game four with just 22 points.

On top of that, the Lakers have been dominant in closeout games throughout the 2020 playoffs, winning all three they’ve played by a minimum of 9 points. Lebron James is also 3-0 in his career when faced with an opportunity to closeout an NBA Finals.

As much as I’d like to see this series go one or two more games, I think once Lebron and co. get a taste of blood, they’re going to close this thing out. I like the Lakers to cover the 7 points and for this game to go under the total of 216.5. Typically in closeout games we see tighter defense and a lot of fouls in the last few minutes, and if the total is close to the number, that could be the difference in pushing this thing under.

The real question taking up a lot of the discussion in NBA social media circles is which Laker will take home MVP. Clearly, it’s down to Anthony Davis or Lebron James, and a standout performance from one of the two stars in game five could be the deciding factor.


Game 6

October 11th, 19:30 P.M.

Just a few days ago it seemed like a formality that the Lakers would win this series and Lebron James would capture his fourth NBA Championship. But after a gutsy Heat win in game 5, this is suddenly dangerously close to becoming a real series.

Jimmy Butler was a man on a mission once again in game 5, putting up 35 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists to will this series to another game. Butler also finally got some secondary scoring help; Duncan Robinson scoring 26 points and making some big buckets down the stretch.

Lebron James also looked great in game 5, scoring 40 points and adding 13 rebounds, but all anyone wanted to talk about was him passing to Danny Green in the late moments instead of taking the shot himself. Green was wide-open and it was the right play, but he missed the shot, so it is what it is.

Despite scoring 28 points, Anthony Davis was hobbling around with a bruised heel in game 5 and how that affects him in game 6 will play a large role in determining the winner. Goran Dragic remains sidelined for the Heat, but Bam Adebayo will play.

Okay, let’s pick a winner. From the beginning I thought this series looked like Lakers in 6, but there have been a lot of ups and downs between now and then. I will stick with my original thought process and take the Lakers to win this one, but I’m going to side with the Heat for the spread. They looked like a team possessed down the stretch in game 5, and with momentum strongly behind them, I like the Heat to at least keep this one close.



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