2020 NBA Finals: Lakers vs. Heat Game 4 odds, pick & prediction
In Game 3 of the 2020 NBA Finals, Jimmy Butler had a virtuoso performance. That is the headline and by far the biggest takeaway from what was really just an awe-inspiring performance. After two games of domination by the favored Los Angeles Lakers, the Miami Heat bit back, and did so largely thanks to the swag, craftiness, and pure grit that Butler shows each and every time he takes the court.
The legend of Butler includes the time he took four bench players while on the Minnesota Timberwolves and beat the other four starters in a practice pickup game to illustrate that he was the alpha on the court and that he needed more help. Witnessing Game 3, one couldn’t help but recall that story, and the way that Butler’s will to win superseded all other variables.
Can Butler and the Heat maintain their momentum? Game 4 of the 2020 NBA Finals tips off on Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 9:00 p.m. ET, and BetAmerica has you covered with a preview and pick.
Wed, October 7 2020, 1:05 AM
Can Butler top his Game 3 performance?
In Game 3’s 115-104 Heat win, Butler scored 40 points, had 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. Simply put, he was the best player on the court. The question that now presents itself is will Butler and the Heat be able to repeat that performance in Game 4 and beyond?
After getting overpowered and beaten down in Games 1 and 2, the Heat looked like a different squad in Game 3. Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic both stayed on the bench with injuries and may return in Game 4, but after rolling his ankle in Game 1 and presumably not being 100% in Game 2, Butler bounced back and took things to the favorites.
Spoelstra made the right adjustments
It helped that Lakers big man Anthony Davis had four early fouls, but Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra has also slightly adjusted his lineup. Jae Crowder went from 25 minutes in Game 1 to 34 minutes in Game 3. Meyers Leonard went from 0 to 13. Kelly Olynyk went from 18 to 31. With Adebayo playing just 21 minutes in Game 1, this is basically an increase of 14 "big body" minutes as Spoelstra recognizes the need to rebound the basketball against the Lakers’ size advantage.
Reinforcements may be on the way for Miami
In Game 4, the Lakers are lesser favorites of 7-points. Part of this is the Heat have exposed the chink in their armor and the perception of most that the Heat stand no chance has been revealed as false. The other reason is Adebayo and Dragic may return. Whether they return or not, however, Game 4’s outcome will once again rely on the most dynamic two players on the court: Davis and Butler. If the Lakers can find advantageous matchups and keep Davis out of foul trouble, they have a better chance at covering. If the Heat can get a replication of Butler’s performance and guards Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro show better shooting prowess from deep, the Heat will once again cover easily.
Will the Lakers cover against the Heat in Game 4 of the NBA Finals?
Lakers need to take the ball out of Butler's hands
Game 4 presents a fascinating opportunity to see if Lakers head coach Frank Vogel can compete with Spoelstra from a strategy perspective. The Lakers still have the better weapons and size advantage, but have to find a way to neutralize Butler to force others to make championship-winning plays. For example, Herro has shown flashes of brilliance and certainly plenty of confidence, and yet was just 6-for-18 in Game 3. If I’m a Lakers supporter, I want the ball in Herro's hands.
The Lakers will also need to force themselves into creating open looks for more efficient shot opportunities like corner threes off Davis and LeBron kick-outs, while also forcing the ball out of Butler’s hands on the other side of the court. If Vogel and the Lakers are able to do that, and crash harder on the boards, they’ll get things back on track and pull out a win.