For the second straight game the Miami Heat were down two starters, as Bam Adebayo (neck strain) and Goran Dragic (plantar tear, left foot) were not cleared to play. But they did have Jimmy Butler, and he put forth one of the greatest stat lines in NBA Finals history to lead the Heat to the 115-104 victory. The Lakers still hold a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 scheduled for Tuesday night, but as Butler said during his postgame interview Miami now knows that Los Angeles “can be beat.”
Butler became the 21st player in league history to post a triple-double in an NBA Finals game, finishing with 40 points (14-of-20 FGs, 12-of-14 FTs), 11 rebounds, 13 assists, two steals and two blocked shots. And he did this without attempting a single 3-pointer on the night. Butler is also the third player in NBA history to put up a 40-point triple-double in an NBA Finals game, joining Jerry West and LeBron James. Butler, who is also the first player in Finals history to put up a 40-point triple-double while also shooting 70 percent or better from the field, made sure to give the Lakers something to think about late in the fourth quarter, as well.
The Heat stuck with the same starting five that they used in Game 2, with Tyler Herro filling in for Dragic and Meyers Leonard doing so for Adebayo. Leonard played just 13 minutes, finishing with seven points (3-of-3 FGs), one rebound, one steal and one 3-pointer in 13 minutes. Kelly Olynyk would be a much better choice than Leonard for DFS should Adebayo also miss Game 4, as he played 37 minutes in Game 2 and another 31 in Game 3.
Olynyk shot 5-of-9 from the field and 4-of-4 from the foul line Sunday night, scoring 17 points with seven rebounds, one assist, two steals and three 3-pointers.
As for Herro, he shot just 6-of-18 from the field but finished with a stat line of 17 points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 36 minutes. The rookie guard provided 14th-round value in nine-cat formats during the regular season and 13th-round value in eight-cat, but he should be a mid-round option in most leagues next season regardless of what happens with Dragic this offseason (he’ll be an unrestricted free agent).
Duncan Robinson (13/5/3/2/1 with three 3-pointers) and Jae Crowder (12/8/1 with two 3-pointers) also scored in double figures for Miami, who stuck with an eight-man rotation. Solomon Hill played four minutes and Derrick Jones Jr. one off the bench, not enough for either to have much of an impact statistically speaking.
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The aforementioned James just missed out on what would have been the 28th postseason triple-double of his career, accounting for 25 points (9-of-16 FGs, 6-of-9 FTs), ten rebounds, eight assists, two blocks and one 3-pointers in 39 minutes. He was also responsible for eight of the Lakers’ 20 turnovers, but the bigger problem for Los Angeles was Miami outscoring them in the paint by a 52-34 margin. Another issue for the Lakers: Anthony Davis’ disappearing act.
After dominating the first two games of the series Davis was limited by early foul trouble and never seemed to recover. He finished with 15 points (6-of-9 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), five rebounds, three assists, two steals and one 3-pointer in 33 minutes, and he went scoreless in the fourth quarter with just one field goal attempt. This is the third time this postseason that Davis has failed to score at least 20 points in a game, and if the first two occasions are an indication of what’s to come in Game 4 then the “Unibrow” may be in for a big night.
After tallying 18 points in the Lakers’ Game 4 win over Portland he went off for 43 points in the series clincher, and he followed up 13 points in the Game 5 win over Houston with 37 against the Nuggets in the opening game of that series.
Danny Green, who was limited to 22 minutes in Game 3 due to hip tightness, may have been affected by the injury more than he let on during his pregame media availability. Green, who continues to struggle with his shot, played just 17 minutes and accounted for two points (0-of-6 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), three rebounds and one assist.
That freed up a couple extra minutes for J.R. Smith, who played five and tallied three points, one rebound, one steal and one 3-pointer. But the players more impacted by Green being limited were Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso, who played 28 and 26 minutes, respectively. Rondo finished with four points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Caruso tallied eight points, one rebound, two assists, one steal and one 3-pointer. Given how much Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have struggled offensively in this series, Rondo and Caruso set up to be better low-cost DFS options for Game 4.
Markieff Morris and Kyle Kuzma both had productive nights, scoring 19 points apiece with the former also accumulating six rebounds, two assists and five 3-pointers. By comparison Morris, who will be a free agent this offseason, scored a total of 14 points in the first two games of the series. He should be an attractive option for teams that fashion themselves as playoff contender in 2020-21. Dwight Howard remains the starting center but he only played 15 minutes Sunday, as without Adebayo the Heat are left with big men who are capable of pulling Howard out to the 3-point line.