NBA Finals 2020: Odds, Schedule and Predictions for Lakers vs. HeatOctober 5, 2020
LeBron James has never swept an opponent in the NBA Finals despite making nine previous appearances and winning three titles entering this season. And though he led the Los Angeles Lakers to a strong start in this year's championship round, that's not going to change.
In Sunday's Game 3, the Miami Heat bounced back from losses in the first two games of the series to notch a 115-104 victory and cut into the Lakers' lead. Miami will now have an opportunity to tie the series with a win in Tuesday's Game 4 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World.
After the first two games of the series, it appeared that Los Angeles was going to cruise to the NBA title. It's possible the Lakers will recover and do just that, but the Heat have at least made things interesting.
Heading into Game 4, here's everything you need to know about this year's NBA Finals.
NBA Finals Schedule
Game 1: Los Angeles won 116-98
Game 2: Los Angeles won 124-114
Game 3: Miami won 115-104
Game 4: Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 5: Friday at 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 6 (if necessary): Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 7 (if necessary): Oct. 13 at 9 p.m. ET, ABC
NBA Title Odds
Los Angeles Lakers: -1500 (bet $1,500 to win $100)
Miami Heat: +870 (bet $100 to win $870)
Odds obtained via FanDuel
Game 4 Preview, Predictions
Things weren't looking good for the Heat when they lost point guard Goran Dragic (torn left plantar fascia) and forward Bam Adebayo (neck strain) to injuries in Game 1. Neither played in Game 2 or in Sunday's Game 3.
However, the Heat still found a way to win to halve the Lakers' series lead. And that was because of a dominant performance by forward Jimmy Butler, who had 40 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds while playing 45 minutes.
It wasn't Los Angeles' best night. The Western Conference champs shot 43 percent from the field and committed 20 turnovers. Also, they shot 75.9 percent from the free-throw line and were outscored in the paint 52-34.
But L.A. doesn't typically have nights like that, especially in these playoffs. And there's no reason to think it won't get back on track.
In fact, the Lakers are likely to win Game 4 to move one victory away from securing their first championship since 2010 and an NBA-record-equaling 17th in franchise history. With the veteran leadership of James and the superstar talent of Anthony Davis, Los Angeles shouldn't let this loss have an effect.
And as Davis succinctly put it after Game 3, the Lakers are still in a good spot.
"It's one loss," Davis said, according to Mark Medina of USA Today. "We're still up in the series."
Los Angeles has come back to win three series after losses earlier this postseason. It lost Game 1 in each of the first two rounds against the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets and then won the next four. In the Western Conference Finals, it lost Game 3 to the Denver Nuggets yet still won the series in five games.
The Lakers will need to do a better job of limiting Butler, who could continue to carry the load for the Heat if Dragic and/or Adebayo continue to miss time. Or if they can get off to a better start, limit their turnovers and shoot a bit more efficiently (as they did in Games 1 and 2), they should be in a better position to have success while playing with a lead.
So even though Los Angeles had a misstep Sunday night, don't expect it to affect the result, which will be the Lakers celebrating a 17th championship.