The Only Way Left For The Heat To Stop LeBron
LeBron James and the Lakers crushed the Heat in Game 1, so how do Jimmy Butler and the rest stop the Lakers? #LeBron #Lakers #Heat
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Game 1 happened. A blowout. Lebron had his way and could get whatever he wanted. Anthony Davis was too much for them to handle. And on top of that, Dragic got injured, Bam Adebayo had a shoulder strain, and Butler looked hobbled. And let’s not try to fool anyone, the Lakers were the favorites, they have the two best players on the court by far. I don’t know why Lakers fans be trying to make themselves the underdogs in ever series, we a good team. Look I just wanted a fun finals, you know gritty, competitive, maybe a little physical. I didn’t want injuries to be another talking point like last year but here we are again. Yet there’s a slight sliver of hope for the Heat to do something, at least to slow down LeBron or confuse the whole Lakers offense and maybe just maybe they can pull it off. It’s clear to see that while yes Anthony Davis was dominant, LeBron was the orchestrator of nearly everything and when the Heat were making a mini-comeback, it was LeBron who was like heck nah and just blew by and bullied defenders to keep the Lakers out of reach. LeBron played like he was the most experienced out there, he was getting mad with missed switches when his team was up by 25, but nothing the Heat did rattled LeBron. Bam got hurt but only after the Heat were down by 29. Butler sprained his ankle after the Lakers had a 30 point swing.
We’ve seen this happen before with LeBron and we have some of the same people involved. The 2014 NBA Finals. LeBron was on the Heat, the Spurs were led by Gregg Popovich and a cast of championship vets and a young defensive prospect enacting a spread team style of basketball. Those Finals would end up being the most lopsided series in NBA history at the time, the biggest margin of victory. But it wasn’t dependent on the Spurs crazy offense. The Heat never scored 100 points or more in 5 games. Yes pace was slower, but they were stopped in their tracks. LeBron averaged 28.2 points on 57% from the field, 52% from 3 with over 6 3 point attempts a game. That looks amazing right, well that was the point. The Spurs knew that there was no exact way to stop LeBron, even with Kawhi and team defense, so let him have it. Let him be the alpha, let him be the dominant scorer. LeBron throughout his career has always tried to involve his teammates, for better or worse. There’s even a term for it, passive LeBron. Drop down on LeBron, take away his passing options, and force him to be a jumpshooter. That’s been the MO, the template that the Spurs developed all the way back in 2007. That was when LeBron really didn’t have any help. And LeBron shot 35% from the field, averaged 22 points and 6.8 assists because he would either force a pass to teammates to try to create something or shoot a long jumper.
The Heat have Erik Spoelstra as a head coach who saw the Spurs defense first hand and how it shut down the whole Heat offense. Let’s look at the tools at his disposal. He has Jimmy Butler who is savvy, a smart defender with his hands, and enough strength. They have Iguodala who by no means can stop LeBron, but legit got Finals MVP for bothering LeBron enough. Curry should’ve gotten that Finals MVP but you get the point. They have Bam Adebayo who Butler has called the heart and soul of the team and more importantly, can match up with Anthony Davis, specifically trying to deny him the ball. Now let’s say the Heat don’t have Bam Adebayo. Well then let’s point to another style of defense that has worked that is less reliant on individual defenders, the zone.
The Heat have used a zone concept on defense against the Celtics which is interesting because it shows their confidence to rely on it in big moments and since that has also worked in the past against LeBron. The Dallas Mavericks in 2011 ran a zone defense that frustrated LeBron, clearly. And guess who saw that too, yup Erik Spoelstra.
Now comes the tough part, Anthony Davis. AD is capable of getting whatever he wants. The whole point of having Dwight Howard start is so that Bam would be forced to guard Dwight instead of AD. The Heat can easily remedy this by going bigger, especially because they have the personnel and making sure that Bam is always matched up with AD. That’s a common practice in playoffs, to minute match. This option disappears if there is no Bam.