Los Angeles Lakers vs Miami Heat Finals Free Picks & Predictions

Los Angeles Lakers vs Miami Heat - NBA Finals
Los Angeles Lakers vs Miami Heat NBA Playoffs

The Miami Heat ran out of gas in Game 6 as the Los Angeles Lakers cruised to their 17th NBA title in franchise history. LeBron James had a triple-double with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists as the Lakers led the entire game with an advantage that was as large as 36 points. Anthony Davis added 19 points and 15 rebounds in the victory as the second of five players who finished in double figures for Los Angeles. Bam Adebayo scored 25 points to lead the Heat, who could not match the intensity level they brought in Games 2-5 to keep their season alive.

Los Angeles Lakers win 4-2

The Los Angeles Lakers were the heavy favorites heading into this series, and that was only cemented when Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo were injured in Game 1. It would have been fascinating to see these two teams slug it out at full strength, but the Lakers took full advantage of the situation to grasp control of this series. Miami played extremely well to push the series to six games, and Jimmy Butler’s efforts in Games 3 and 5 should be commended. However, the margin for error was too slim for the Heat in this series and they could not keep that effort level consistent enough. Meanwhile, the Lakers lived up to the hype by winning this year’s title and now enter the offseason as favorites to repeat with LeBron James and Anthony Davis playing as well as they did in the NBA Finals.

Game 1

September 30th, 9:00 p.m., AdventHealth Arena

The NBA Finals pit the Los Angeles Lakers against the Miami Heat in a series that features a plethora of storylines. There’s the obvious one for LeBron James facing off against the team he helped lead to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances, or the upstart Heat facing the powerful Lakers, but none of that impacts the play on the court. This is a series between two teams with contrasting styles, the Lakers are far more centered around their superstars on both ends of the floor while the Heat play a more team-oriented style. It puts a variety of pressures on the defense and that will make for some fascinating matchups between these two teams however long this series lasts.

It’s no surprise that the Lakers’ fortunes rest on Anthony Davis and James. They are the only two Lakers players averaging more than 10.5 points per game and the only ones who have made meaningful contributions consistently throughout the playoffs. Rajon Rondo could also be included on that list with 7.2 assists per game through 10 postseason games, but it has otherwise been a guessing game as to which role players will step up. Sometimes none of them do and it puts more of the onus on Davis and James to pick up the slack. Davis is going to need to be a force inside to slow down Bam Adebayo, especially after Davis disappeared from rebounding in the final three games with the Nuggets. That is an area Adebayo and the Heat can definitely exploit with their team-oriented basketball.

What has set Miami apart all season is their chemistry and teamwork that has become engrained in its culture. The Heat have six different players averaging double figures in the postseason, with everyone understanding their roles perfectly. That is what will make the Heat a difficult team to beat in a seven-game series, but Miami is going to need a lot more from Jimmy Butler if it wants to win the championship. Butler never really asserted himself in the series against Boston and averaged only 19 points, six rebounds and five assists. That isn’t a bad stat line by any means, but he’ll need to do more against a Lakers squad headlined by two legitimate superstars in order to lift Miami to new heights.

To no one’s surprise, the Lakers are the heavy favorites to win the title according to the New Jersey online sports betting sites. Los Angeles is listed at -360 odds to win the title, while Miami is just +260 to come out victorious. The prevailing thought has the Lakers winning in five or six games, with both of those results at significantly shorter than any other result. I think this series will definitely go six games, and the question is whether or not I think Miami can push it to seven games. I certainly wouldn’t mind taking a stab at betting on the series going seven games at +255 odds, which is the longest odds except one team sweeping the other. Ultimately, I think the Lakers will prevail, but I will hedge by bets on wagering on them to win in six games at +325 odds and to win it in seven at +500 odds.

If we focus on in Wednesday’s opening game, I expect we’ll see two teams trying to feel out each other early in the series. I don’t think Miami is going to throw a lot of its zone at Los Angeles, and instead save it for later in the series to throw off the Lakers’ offense. Los Angeles is a steady five-point favorite for Game 1, which means the odds on the moneyline are not great from a value perspective. You certainly can bet on the Lakers at -196 odds, but I always like looking for some interesting parlays. In this case, it’s taking the Lakers to win laying 5.5 points and the game featuring less than 217.5 points for +280 odds.

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Game 2 (Los Angeles Lakers lead 1-0)

October 2nd, 9:00 p.m., AdventHealth Arena

The Los Angeles Lakers took over the final three quarters of Game 1 of the NBA Finals to take the early advantage over the Miami Heat. LeBron James and Anthony Davis dictated the pace after a strong Miami start, and the Lakers ran away with the game as adversity hit the Heat hard. Miami dealt with some key injuries during the game, and could never find a rhythm in the second quarter as the Lakers blew the game wide open. Jimmy Butler led the way with 23 points for Miami, which only had four players finish in double figures.

Los Angeles certainly imposed its will on Miami over the final 36 minutes of action, and it started with the efforts of Davis and James. After going silent late in the Western Conference Finals, Davis grabbed nine rebounds to go along with his 34 points. James was just one assist shy of another triple-double, finishing with 25 points and 13 rebounds in the victory. But that effort translated to Danny Green, who made three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points, and the rest of the role players, who again took the Lakers over the top by outplaying Miami’s bench. If Los Angeles can keep winning the battle of the benches, this series will not be close.

It was a horrendous night for Miami in multiple ways, starting with their effort on the defensive end. The Heat did very little slow down the Lakers’ offense and they did even less on the glass, where they were outrebounded 54-36. No one on the Miami roster grabbed more than five rebounds, and Bam Adebayo looked uncomfortable in his 21 minutes of action against the Lakers frontcourt and finished with just eight points and four rebounds before leaving with a shoulder injury. The biggest loss, however, was the injury to Goran Dragic, who has silently been the heartbeat of the team at point guard. He was plus-one in his 14 minutes on the court, far better than Tyler Herro’s minus-35 in 30 minutes as his replacement.

The spread for Game 2 went up to eight points in the Lakers’ favor at the New Jersey online sports betting sites, which makes sense given what we saw in Game 1. Even if Miami were to have a response ready for Game 2, the injuries to Adebayo and Dragic are a major concern for the Heat. Dragic’s injury is far more severe, and a major blow to Miami if he can’t return to the series, but Adebayo’s shoulder is probably not severe enough he could play through it, it’s just a question of how effective he will be. If those two are not at full strength, this series shifts dramatically in Los Angeles’ direction and the betting reflects that. I’m again going to take the same-game parlay and bet on the Lakers laying 7.5 points and under 216.5 total points for +255 odds.

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Game 3 (Los Angeles Lakers lead 2-0)

October 4th, 7:30 p.m., AdventHealth Arena

The Los Angeles Lakers answered every Miami Heat run with a big play of their own to move halfway to claiming yet another NBA title. Anthony Davis scored 32 points and grabbed 14 rebounds while LeBron James scored 33 with nine rebounds and nine assists to lead the Lakers. Rajon Rondo had 16 points and 10 assists off the bench in another masterful performance for the point guard in helping Los Angeles deal with the plucky Heat squad missing two starters. Miami’s role players stepped up to help fill some of the gaps in the lineup, but it was ultimately not enough to survive the onslaught of talent from the Lakers.

It was a bit surprising to see the Lakers set a franchise record with 47 3-point attempts in a game in which their opponent was missing its starting center. Los Angeles did take full advantage of that fact in other ways. Davis was a monster early and often in the game, making 14 of his first 15 shots in the contest as Miami did not have an answer for the big man inside. The Lakers also made 16 consecutive two-point shots from late in the first quarter until early in the third, but Los Angeles still settled for a lot of 3-pointers. It only made 16 of those long jumpers – 34 percent – and it possibly kept Miami in the game while the Lakers were having their way in the paint against the shorthanded Heat.

Miami was certainly missing its two starters in Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic as several players were thrust into bigger roles than expected. Tyler Herro scored just 17 points as the starter at point guard, and Meyers Leonard played just nine minutes as Adebayo’s replacement at center. Instead it was Kelly Olynyk who played a majority of the minutes inside for the Heat, and he scored 24 points, just one fewer than Jimmy Butler’s team-high 25. The Heat played well enough to win offensively by shooting 50.7 percent from the field and better than 40 percent from behind the arc, but their defense slipped and allowed the Lakers to also shoot better than 50 percent for the game.

Even if Adebayo returns as expected for Game 3, this is clearly an uphill battle for the Heat to win a game in this series. Miami was unfortunate to have two key players go down with injuries in the opener, and you must commend the heat for their tenacity and determination in this series. However, there are no moral victories for professional basketball players, and as such, the Heat are deserved heavy underdogs to the Lakers on Sunday at the New Jersey online sports betting sites. Los Angeles is again 8.5-point favorites and the Lakers should again win comfortably, but that doesn’t mean they will cover. In fact, I expect Miami will sneak in under the spread with Adebayo back in the lineup, so I’m betting on Miami getting 8.5 points and the over 218.5 combined points for +270 odds.

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Game 4 (Los Angeles Lakers win 2-1)

October 6th, 9:00 p.m., AdventHealth Arena

The Miami Heat clawed their way back into the NBA Finals with a big win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 on Sunday night. Jimmy Butler led the way with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists to will his teammates to a much-needed victory after losing the first two games. The Lakers didn’t go away, though, as they battled back from double-digit deficits several times to reclaim the lead. However, Miami always had a response as well with Butler helping to lead the way.

Miami hasn’t really gotten going from behind the arc yet in this series, and that didn’t change in Game 3. The Heat made just 12 of their 34 3-point attempts as Duncan Robinson went 3 for 10, Tyler Herro was 2 for 7 and Jae Crowder was 2 of 8. Still, all three of them finished in double figures with Herro leading the way with 17 points, Crowder had 12 points and eight rebounds and Robinson scored 13 points with five rebounds. Kelly Olynyk again played a large part for the Heat in Game 3, making three of his five 3-point attempts to finish with 17 points and seven rebounds. Butler’s heroic performance was helpful in Game 3, but Miami is also going to need the guys around him to give that two percent more in order to survive the Lakers in the long haul.

Game 3 was another instance of Anthony Davis shrinking as the big man scored just 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting with five turnovers and five rebounds. He found himself in foul trouble in the first half, which might have made him passive, but he still had zero points and four turnovers in the first quarter before he picked up his second foul seven minutes into the contest. It was part of a wretched first quarter for the Lakers, who committed 10 turnovers in the opening 12 minutes and yet still only trailed by three. LeBron James scored 25 points to lead the way and Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris added 19 points each, but the Lakers could not stop Butler from making an impact. It’ll be vital for Los Angeles to get more production from their big man, Davis, but it’s just as important the Lakers stay vigilant on the perimeter and not let Miami shoot its way back into the series.

The Lakers are the favorites in Game 4, and it’s hard to argue against that given how poorly they played early in Game 3 and still had numerous chances to potentially win the game. Miami is a scrappy team, which makes the 7.5-point spread at the New Jersey online sports betting sites a little tough to bet upon. The Heat could easily lose Game 4, but keep it close enough to sneak under the spread, especially given the confidence they built in Game 3. The -305 odds on the Lakers to win outright don’t provide enough value for me, so I’ll again look at the in-game parlays for my wager. I’ll pick Los Angeles to win the game and I’ll take a risk with the under 219.5 points at +160 odds after two of the first three games landed under that number.

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Game 5 (Los Angeles Lakers lead 3-1)

October 9th, 9:00 p.m., AdventHealth Arena

There wasn’t much pretty about the way the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. It was the type of gritty, scrappy game that would seem to benefit the Heat moreso than the Lakers, but Anthony Davis and LeBron James refused to let the Lakers lose Tuesday night. James had 28 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists while Davis added 22 points and some aggressive defense on Jimmy Butler to keep the Lakers in the lead. Butler still led the way for the Heat with 22 points, one more than Tyler Herro’s 21 as four Miami players finished in double figures.

The Lakers did an excellent job at committing to the gritty style of play and excelling at it in the crucial moments. Los Angeles never led by more than nine, but it never surrendered the lead for the final 20ish minutes of the game despite several pushes from the Heat. The Lakers only shot 36 percent from 3-point range, but they found ways to make those shots in key moments and seven of their eight players who appeared in the game and attempted a 3-pointer, made one. Rajon Rondo struggled with his shooting in the game, but his defense ensured he was a plus-8 in his 28 minutes on the court. The Lakers found ways to use their size and physicality to their advantage, especially against Butler, and the Heat ended up relying on its young perimeter shooters to try to salvage the game late, and that effort fell short.

Miami’s biggest disappointment in Game 4 was the play of its reserves off the bench. The three players who came off the bench Tuesday combined for 13 points on 4-of-18 shooting, which is not good enough for the Heat to win games in this series. The Heat certainly don’t need them to have a monster game, but they needed to be more efficient in their offensive attempts, especially inside the arc. The missed shots also had an effect on Miami’s team-oriented approach because the Heat finished with just 18 assists on 32 made shots, the fewest number of assists Miami has had in the postseason. Depth and assist totals are the types of little details that have made the Heat such a dangerous team in the first three rounds of the playoffs that have yet to translate over to the NBA Finals due to injuries.

It feels like every series there’s a moment where my gut doesn’t match my head on predictions. This is that moment for the NBA Finals. The Lakers have done everything correctly to pull out to a 3-1 series lead and Miami isn’t likely to make a comeback in this series. But Bam Adebayo’s return and the heart Miami has shown in this series lead me to believe an upset is coming in Game 5. The Heat have really grinded in this series but having inferior talent was tough to overcome in the first two games. That might not be the case in Game 5, which when combined with their effort is enough for me to believe in Miami for one game. The Lakers are 6.5-point favorites at the New Jersey online sports betting sites, but I’m going to bypass the spread entirely and just bet on Miami at +260 odds on the moneyline.

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Game 6 (Los Angeles Lakers lead 3-2)

October 11th, 7:30 p.m., AdventHealth Arena

The Miami Heat were going to need a gritty effort to win Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and that’s exactly what they delivered Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers. Jimmy Butler was again a superstar for the Heat with 35 points in a triple-double effort, and made the two critical free throws that put the Heat up for good with 16.8 seconds left. Miami played fantastic defense in the closing seconds to force the ball out of LeBron James’ hands after he had scored 40 points already on the night and Danny Green’s open jumper was short. The Lakers barely couldn’t match the Heat’s effort and thus will have to play a Game 6 on Sunday.

Butler deserves a lot of credit for the Heat’s victory while becoming just the sixth player to record multiple triple-doubles in the same NBA Finals series. In addition to the 35 points he scored, Butler grabbed 13 rebounds and assisted on 11 baskets. However, Duncan Robinson found a groove from behind the arc and made seven 3-pointers, which were just as vital to Miami’s success. The sharpshooter finished with 26 points in the game as the Heat shot 42.4 percent from behind the arc. Butler’s leadership and offense of combined with strong outside shooting is the exact formula for Miami to have success in this series. The Heat, though, will need to be rested enough to have another maximum effort night if it wants to force a Game 7.

There wasn’t much else the Lakers could do to win Game 5 as they found their fate in the hands of a good shooter with a pretty open shot at the end of the game. James was spectacular in scoring 40 points with 13 rebounds and seven assists and Anthony Davis added 28 points and 12 rebounds while dealing with a bruised heel. However, Los Angeles’ offense was very predictably one-sided in Friday’s loss. Davis and James made two-thirds of their shots in the loss, but the rest of their teammates made just 30.4 percent of their shots. If that changes, it will be much harder for Miami to defend the Lakers and should result in a far more comfortable victory, but it’s hard to rely on that to happen. James will take a lot of the onus on himself to finish a series, so the Lakers need to be prepared to chip in where necessary to help close out the Heat.

It’s unwise to ever doubt the heart and determination of this Miami squad, so I have full confidence that the Heat will give it their all Sunday. The question I have is whether or not the Heat will have enough energy left to survive 48 minutes of the effort required to beat the Lakers in Game 6. The pictures from after Game 5 were proof enough of how hard Miami has to play in order to win a game in this series while shorthanded, and that effort is doubled when it’s an elimination game. Expecting another triple-double out of Butler seems a little excessive, but that is what it has taken in this series for Miami to win. Therefore, I’ll play it safe and bet on the Lakers to win the game on the moneyline at -200 odds at the New Jersey online sports betting sites.

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

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