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NBA FINALS – GAME 5 PREVIEW

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The Los Angeles Lakers will be taking on the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Saturday morning (6:30 AM IST) at the AdventHealth Arena inside the Orlando bubble in Florida with LeBron James looking to gun for glory.

Will the Lakers be able to close out the series and win a record 17th NBA Championship, or will the Heat defeat them to live to fight another day? Let’s find out who the odds favor as the curtain is drawing on this year’s NBA 2019-20 season.

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LA Lakers are looking to go in for the kill.

The Lakers had announced that they will be donning the ‘Black Mamba’ jersey for Game 5 that had been designed by the late Laker great Kobe Bryant. Lakers are 4-0 in these playoffs whenever they’ve worn the jersey, and the last win came in Game 2 of these finals when Anthony Davis hit the game-winning 3 pointer to give LA a 2-0 lead.

“It means something. Something more than just a uniform. It represents an individual who gave the franchise 20 years of his blood, sweat, and tears, and his dedication to his craft, both on and off the floor, to make that franchise be proud of him, and hopefully vice versa,” said LeBron James. “I think it’s just pretty cool when you know you’re wearing a uniform that a legend had his hands on.”

This is the 36th time that a team has held a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. Of the previous 35, the team with the lead has gone on to win the title 34 times- LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are that ‘1’ when they defeated the Golden State Warriors in 2016. So LBJ knows that a 3-1 lead can be blown, but he will be ready to face the challenge that the Heat will pose to take it to a Game 6. James has the best record in closeout games (38-10) in NBA history, and a man who has won 16 of his last 17 closeout opportunities, he’s ready to go regardless.

For Anthony Davis and many other Lakers, this is the opportunity for their maiden ring- and they’ll have to grab this chance by the neck if they want to make that dream into a reality.

Also Read: THE NBA FINALS – GAME 4 REVIEW

Miami Heat aren’t looking to roll-over that easily.

“We’ve got a chance. We still believe. They’re writing us off. Everybody is doubting us. But as long as the people in the locker room and all our coaching staff have belief in us, that’s all that matters,” Bam Adebayo said at practice on Thursday.

Miami are well aware of the uphill task that they have in their hands. Being down 3-1 in a series against a team with two generational superstars, the Heat will have to resort to their two biggest strengths- Belief and Effort. They’ve been the underdogs all throughout the playoffs, no one believed that they could make the finals. But the Heat organization is lived in themselves all this time and their effort has resulted in them in reaching this year’s finals. Although, reaching the finals isn’t good enough for them – winning is.

“Our confidence ain’t going nowhere. It’s going to stay high,” Miami forward Jimmy Butler said. “I’m going to make sure that it stays high because it’s going to have to be at an all-time high to get this next win.” You’re right Jimmy, it’s going to take everything you have if your team has any chance of winning this title.

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Factors heading into Game 5:

  • Anthony Davis needs to establish himself offensively from the get-go: he’s unstoppable when on a  scoring run and it can result in getting the Heat players, especially Bam Adebayo into foul trouble- which will tip the scales in LA’s favor.
  • LeBron James should not be passive in the first half, i.e. he should be aggressive while driving to the basket and picking up fouls along with finding the open man when doubled for a higher percentage shot. Of course, all other team members must make the open looks they get. Kyle Kuzma, Markieff Morris, KCP and Danny Green should be looking to find their rhythm early on.
  • Jimmy Butler will have to channel his Game 2 spirit. He did look gassed towards the end of Game 4, hopefully, this 2 days break has allowed him to recuperate and be ready to fire on all cylinders for tomorrow’s game. Frankly put, Jimmy’s engine will translate to his team’s fire to win.
  • If Goran Dragic is still unable to play in Game 5 then Kendrick Nunn will be coming in, who was awful in Game 4- shooting only 2 of 11 from the field. He will have to play a whole lot smarter and be more efficient, not just dribble out the clock and shoot at the end if it.
  • It goes without saying but, Duncan RobinsonTyler HerroJae Crowder need to make their shots and Bam Adebayo has to be the focal point of the team on both ends of the floor. He had been their leader in points, rebounds and assists in the series leading up to the playoffs and he’ll have to put up a similar display to keep his team’s ship from sinking.

 

My Finals MVP Pick: LeBron James

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