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Sports Lakers vs. Heat: Three keys to watch in Game 3 of the NBA Finals

15:45  04 october  2020
15:45  04 october  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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After two convincing wins to open the NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers have the championship in their sights. A win in Game 3 on Sunday night (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC) would put them up 3-0 and all but assure the franchise's record-tying 17th title.

Despite the deficit, the Miami Heat are determined to get back in the series. It will be a very steep hill to climb.

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Goran Dragic (torn plantar fascia in left foot) and Bam Adebayo (neck strain) missed Game 2 with injuries. The Heat played about as well as they could without two of their best players and still lost by 10 in a game that wasn't as close as the final margin.

a person with a football ball: Anthony Davis is shooting 57.9% in the playoffs, including 63.4% in the Finals. © Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports Anthony Davis is shooting 57.9% in the playoffs, including 63.4% in the Finals.

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Dragic appears unlikely to play Sunday, but Adebayo insists he will be ready to go. Even if Adebayo plays, his return might not be enough for the Heat to slow the Lakers.

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Kobe Bryant scored 33 points in his third straight stellar performance since he broke his nose in the All-Star game , and Wade managed just 16 points before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers ' 93-83 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday!

With LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the charge, the Lakers have looked almost unstoppable in the first two games of the series, with an offensive rating of 126.3, according to NBA.com. Two games is a small sample size, but for comparison's sake, the Dallas Mavericks led the league during the regular season with a 115.9 rating.

Beyond the analytics, Los Angeles has used its size and physicality to punish the smaller Miami roster.

With everything seemingly clicking, the Larry O'Brien Trophy is almost in Los Angeles' grasp. Can the Lakers take a commanding 3-0 lead, or will the Heat prove their resilience yet again? Here are three keys to watch in Game 3:

Bam's impact

Adebayo is listed as doubtful, but he said after Game 2 he believes he will be able to suit up Sunday. If he plays, it is uncertain how effective he will be. Adebayo, an All-Defensive Second Team selection this season, is the Heat's best defender and anchors the middle of their zone. The Lakers have found ways to exploit Miami's zone defense, but Adebayo's presence would make it much harder for Los Angeles. If Adebayo can't go, it will again mean more minutes for Kelly Olynyk, who is a better shooter but nowhere near the defender Adebayo is.

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Lakers overwhelm shorthanded Heat in Game 2 to take NBA finals stranglehold. A very aggressive start for the Lakers ’ Dwight Howard, who has three buckets already following his two-point performance in Game 1. LA are testing the Heat inside early as expected with Adebayo sidelined.

The Lakers forward scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, including a key three -pointer with 47 seconds O'Neal, Horry and Kobe Bryant combined for 77 of the Lakers 96 points. Bryant had 16 of his 32 Throwback: Kobe Bryant 32 vs Allen Iverson 35 Duel Highlights ( NBA Finals 2001 Game 3 )

Dominant duo

Perhaps the biggest storyline to emerge from Game 2 was the debate over Finals MVP. James and Davis have both been magnificent through two games. James is averaging 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists on 54.8% shooting, while Davis is averaging 33 points and 11.5 rebounds on 63.4% shooting. They have complemented each other perfectly, alternating stretches of dominance. If the duo is in top form again in Game 3, the Heat will have to be flawless to knock off the Lakers.

Zone busters

The zone defense Miami used to frustrate Boston in the Eastern Conference finals has not worked as well against Los Angeles. James and Davis have the ideal skill-sets to take advantage of the soft spots in the middle of the zone and along the baseline. Yet, when executed well, the defense might still be the Heat's best chance to get back in the series. If the zone comes together, especially if Adebayo plays, they may be able to slow the Lakers offense enough to get the win.

Follow Matt Eppers on Twitter @meppers_.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lakers vs. Heat: Three keys to watch in Game 3 of the NBA Finals

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