[caption id="attachment_318876" align="aligncenter" width="2524"] (@Lakers)
Good morning, folks. Anthony Davis, Rajon Rondo
, and Frank Vogel
are World Champions. Let's talk NBA Bubble for the final time this season.
NBA FINALS GAME 6 RECAP [LAL wins 4-2]
Los Angeles Lakers - 106 Miami Heat - 93
The NBA community was on pins and needles heading into Sunday night, having no idea what to expect out of an NBA Finals Game 6 that had already produced five out-of-the-ordinary results in the games prior. The Los Angeles Lakers blew its opportunity to finish the job in Game 5 and a window of hope presented itself for the Miami Heat heading forward. Bam Adebayo
was back and Jimmy Butler was coming off another all-time performance. Game 6 was setting itself up to be a start-to-finish thriller.
Until it wasn't.
The Lakers wasted no time jumping out to the quick start they should have during the opening stages of Game 5. By the time we reached the halftime intermission, the only thing left to do was fill out the Finals MVP ballots: the Lakers blew the doors wide open, putting the game, the series, the season, and the fans, to bed early. L.A. led by 28 at the half before winning 106-93. Here's how we got there.
Adebayo and Tyler Herro
connected on a beautiful pick-and-roll alley-oop on Miami's opening possession, immediately setting a tone on offense that they were coming out looking to strike first. Although the Heat never led in the game, it was close throughout the first 12 minutes of action. 17 combined points in the first period out of LeBron James (9) and Anthony Davis
(8) allowed L.A. to take a 28-20 lead into the second quarter. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel elected to roll with Alex Caruso in the starting lineup as opposed to Dwight Howard, who had been starting all Finals. The lineup change forced Davis to defend Adebayo (reminder, neither Davis nor Adebayo were 100 percent healthy), which was met with relative team success. Adebayo and Butler managed just six combined points in the first quarter while Miami as a whole turned the ball over six times during that span.
The contest was actually back-and-forth until Rajon Rondo
entered the game for L.A. Despite struggling to shoot the ball during the series, the former Wildcat came out eager to make an impact on the brightest stage. He immediately contributed four points before the end of the first before dropping nine more in the second, drilling a shot from outside, as well. On two separate occasions, Rondo burned right past Butler for easy layups at the rim--which was probably more indicative of Butler's exhausted energy levels. That probably should have been the first indication that this series was officially over. In all, Rondo finished the first half with 13 points, four rebounds, and two assists in what was easily his most impressive stretch of the Finals. His efforts in the second quarter aided the Lakers' monster run.
Miami would score just 16 points in the second quarter, shooting 7-23 from the field and 1-7 from beyond the arc, compared to 36 points from L.A. The lead ballooned to 30 before either side could hit the locker room. 27 combined points from Rondo, Davis, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the second period proved to be more than enough. The Lakers were ahead 64-36 at the half and never once looked back. Despite the Heat winning the fourth quarter 35-19, it was far too late for any semblance of a comeback. The Lakers went into cruise control before winning the game by 13 and taking home the Larry O'Brien trophy in the process.
LeBron James was named the unanimous Finals MVP, his fourth time winning the award and third time on a different team, after posting 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists on a 13-20 shooting clip. Davis's night concluded with 19 points and 15 rebounds as he became just the eighth player in history to win an NCAA Championship, an Olympic Gold Medal, and an NBA Title
. He also became just the third player ever to win an NCAA Championship, NCAA National Player of the Year, go No. 1 in the NBA Draft, and win an NBA title, joining two all-time greats in Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and Bill Walton. Rondo, who finished with 19 points, four rebounds, and four assists, became the third former Kentucky player to win multiple NBA Titles, joining Frank Ramsey and Los Tsioropoulos. He is also the oldest former Wildcat (34 years old) to win an NBA Title.
Adebayo's season ended with an impressive 25 points to go along with 10 rebounds and five assists on a 10-15 shooting clip, but only 12 points from Butler and 10 from Duncan Robinson put Miami in a tough position. Herro posted seven points, three rebounds, and four assists, marking the first time all playoffs
that he failed to record double-digits in scoring and the first since all the way back on Aug. 1.
It was a hell of an NBA season--the longest in history, in fact--and I'm glad I got to enjoy this journey with you all. It sure is fun when a handful of one-time Wildcats are running the best professional league in the world. Now we head into an unknown offseason with an unknown start date for the 2020-21 season. Davis is technically a free agent this offseason, and will surely be the topic of discussion amongst Lakers fans and media until a new deal is reached. But he's an NBA Champion now; he can do whatever the hell he wants.
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