No Lakers NBA championship celebration planned yet

This will come as no surprise, with the global coronavirus pandemic still affecting the world. Here’s the LA Times reporting:

The Lakers captured the franchise’s 17th NBA championship on Sunday night with a Game 6 victory over the Miami Heat, but plans for the team to celebrate the title in Los Angeles have not materialized.

The coronavirus pandemic, which has led state and county health officials to ban large gatherings of people, has seen to that.

No victory parade is planned through the streets of L.A., and no public team celebration in downtown will be held anytime soon.

There had been rumors of a possible virtual parade and party, but the Lakers have not released any information on the likelihood of that taking place.

An Internet-based celebration is obviously what makes sense for today’s times. The team could get together, but if they’re going to do that then logically it should be done immediately, while the team is still safe and all together in the Disney NBA bubble. But chances are, after spending months in the bubble, Lakers players probably just want to head home.

We’ll just assume that a virtual celebration will materialize sometime soon.

Lakers beat Heat in six games, win 2020 NBA championship

LA Times: “Through the darkness and drama, the questions about whether the Lakers’ luster was gone forever, remained the hope that a day like this would happen again. A championship. Confetti sprayed all over the court. A superstar puffing a cigar, grinning at what he’d done. On Sunday evening, the Lakers became champions for the 17th time with a 106-93 win over the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. This time they did it in a gym shaped like Mickey Mouse with two superstars who came to resuscitate the franchise. Anthony Davis came because of LeBron James.”

OC Register: “James led Sunday’s attentive attack, with a full-steam-ahead triple-double: a team-high 28 points and 10 assists to go with 14 rebounds. The multi-talented 35-year-old was named Finals MVP, becoming the first player to earn the honor with three teams, having previously done it in 2012 and 2013 with the Heat and in 2016 with Cleveland. And in his 260th playoff game, James surpassed former Laker Derek Fisher for most postseason contests played in NBA history. He also improved his personal Finals record to 4-6, as one of only four players to appear in 10 or more NBA Finals series, along with Bill Russell, Sam Jones and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.”

OC Register: And so in the most unpredictable, most emotionally taxing and most endurance-testing season any basketball team has ever played, the Lakers came out on top, 106-93, rolling over the Heat in the sixth game of the series with a thudding sense of finality to their 16-5 postseason run. There will be no historical arguments: The Lakers were the best team, and it was in the refrigerator by halftime, when they led by 28 points. It was the 17th championship in franchise history for an organization that grew used to winning, but slogged through a decade without a Finals appearance and six of those without even making the playoffs. James (28 points), in his 17th season, captained the effort for his fourth Finals MVP award – an honor he’s received along with every title he’s ever won at previous stints in Miami and Cleveland. But his fourth championship is one of his most defining: He became one of just four men in NBA history to win titles with three different franchises (teammate Danny Green also joined this club) and the only one of the quartet to be a foundational player on each of those teams.

OC Register: “Wherever Danny Green goes, championships seem to follow. “Been very lucky,” he said Sunday after the Lakers clinched the 2020 NBA title by beating the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals – a feat that qualified Green and LeBron James among just four players who have won titles with three franchises. The other two members of the club: Robert Horry and John Salley. James’ previous titles came in 2012 and 2013 with the Heat and in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.”

OC Register: “Miami suffered the aftereffects of Erik Spoelstra’s decision to use only seven players in Game 5. They were shanking layups from the beginning. The Lakers’ venom came out when they saw Miami’s fatigue. They outscored Miami 14-0 in the paint in the first half, outscored Miami 14-0 on fast breaks, and held the Heat to 34.2 percent shooting. Miami’s offense was reduced to contortion. It was an awkward 22 for 42 in the paint. The Lakers eliminated all the comfortable catch-and-shoots, too. In the end, the Heat players looked like they were playing against Dad. Vogel set up the blowout with a move that can only come from a coach who is trusted. He started Caruso and benched center Dwight Howard. That allowed the Lakers to chase the shooters outside, to better handle pick-and-rolls, and to let Davis spread his wings at the rim.”

OC Register: “Bryant and his family were never far from the Lakers’ hearts and minds. “One, two, three Mamba,” they would chant, referring to his Black Mamba nickname, after putting their hands together before heading onto the court to start every game, every quarter, every half and after every timeout. “We didn’t let him down, we didn’t let him down,” center Anthony Davis said. “Ever since the tragedy, all we wanted to do was do it for him. We didn’t let him down. It would have been great to do it last game in his jerseys. But it made us come out more aggressive, more powerful on both ends of the floor to make sure we closed it out (Sunday). I know he’s looking down on us, proud of us. I know Vanessa (Bryant’s wife) is proud of us, the organization is proud of us. “It means a lot to us. He was a big brother to all of us. We did this for him.””

LA Times: “Lonzo Ball. Brandon Ingram. Josh Hart. The No. 4 pick. First-round picks that stretch into the middle of the decade. The Lakers traded a lot — some would say their future — for Anthony Davis. But the deal that netted them a championship, the franchise’s 17th, wasn’t a trade for the present. It was a deal for the future — the next great Laker celebrating a championship. Davis isn’t leaving. The way he’s played in his first season in purple and gold, it’s obvious he’s just getting started. He’s been the perfect partner for LeBron James and it’s hard to imagine a better situation.”

Sun Sentinel: “James closed with a triple-double Sunday, with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, supported by 19 points and 15 rebounds from Davis. For the Heat, there were 25 points and 10 rebounds from Adebayo, as well as 12 points, eight assists and seven rebounds from Butler. Ultimately, the bubble burst Sunday for the Heat as the champagne flowed for the Lakers, a forgettable Heat night that followed an unforgettable season. “I told Coach Pat, I told Coach Spo I’m here to win one,” Butler said. “I didn’t do my job, so moving forward, I got to hold up my end of the bargain.”

Heat edge Lakers 111-108 in NBA Finals Game 5 win

“The Miami Heat would not allow the coronation. They’d seen the preparations underway for a championship celebration, the Mamba uniforms the Lakers never had lost in while wearing, the gold shoes on Anthony Davis’ feet — gold like the trophy he thought he’d be hoisting later Friday night. Not if Jimmy Butler had anything to say about it. Nor his teammate Duncan Robinson, whom the Lakers couldn’t stop from making threes, even by fouling him. The Heat won Game 5 of the NBA Finals 111-108, despite 40 points from LeBron James, and delayed the Lakers’ hopes for a 17th championship. The longest season in the history of the NBA will last at least two more days. Game 6 will be Sunday evening, with the Lakers’ lead now trimmed to 3-2.” — LA Times

“Butler scored 35 points, 22 in the first half, and notched his second triple-double of the Finals, with 12 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals. He joined James as the only players with multiple triple-doubles in an NBA Finals. James finished shy of one for the fifth time this series with 13 rebounds and seven assists, while Davis scored 28 points with 12 rebounds.” — LA Times

“Danny Green was wide open. He was wide open at the precise spot that Robert Horry stood against Sacramento in 2002. He was wide open with a chance to do what Anthony Davis did to Denver a couple of weeks ago… The shot went clank, the Lakers went clunk, and now a lock has gone loopy and the NBA Finals have gone crazy.” — LA Times

“The Lakers suddenly have to worry that they have nobody to guard Duncan Robinson, the Heat guard who was unstoppable deep, connecting on seven three-pointers with few defenders around him.” — LA Times

“And more than anything, the Lakers have to worry about Anthony Davis, who re-injured a sore right heel at the end of the first quarter and was limping by the game’s end. Davis finished with 28 points, but he slowed as the game proceeded, and seemed stuck to the floor during the Lakers’ final chance.” — LA Times

“With Goran Dragic out and Bam Adebayo fighting a neck injury, it’s been primarily on Butler to do everything — score, rebound, pass and defend. He’s played at least 43 minutes in the last four Finals games. It was more than him Friday, Duncan Robinson’s shooting and Kendrick Nunn’s aggression playing major factors in the outcome. But its obvious that Butler’s spirit drives it all. And Friday, he sat out of the game for just 48 seconds. “I left it all out there on the floor,” Butler said.” — LA Times

“Butler continued his magnificent championship series with 35 points on 11-of-19 shooting, 1-of-3 shooting on threes and 12-of-12 shooting from the foul line, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals on Friday. It marked his second triple-double of the Finals, as he also finished the Heat’s Game 3 win with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists to become the third player in NBA history to record a 40-point triple-double in the Finals. Friday’s performance didn’t include much rest for Butler, who played 47:12 of the 48 minutes.” — Miami Herald

“But James was magnificent Friday, too. The four-time MVP finished Game 5 with 40 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and three steals in 42 minutes.” — Miami Herald

“The Lakers’ second star Anthony Davis was also effective with 28 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and three blocks in 42 minutes. Davis was limping toward the end of the game after re-aggravating his right heel contusion, but he said “I’ll be fine” for Game 6.” — Miami Herald

Goran Dragic remains out for Heat in NBA Finals

While the Lakers have been without starting guard Avery Bradley throughout the 2020 NBA playoffs, the Heat will still be without guard Goran Dragic, who came off the bench as a super-sub during the regular season but had been a starter in this postseason. Here’s the Miami Herald reporting:

It looks like the Miami Heat will continue to play without starting guard Goran Dragic on Friday.

Dragic has been ruled out for Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers because of a torn plantar fascia in his left foot, according to a report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania. League sources confirmed to the Miami Herald that the expectation is that Dragic would miss his fourth consecutive game because of the injury.

The Heat are down 3-1 to the Lakers in the Finals, with Game 5 tipping off in a few hours.

Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo speak on tomorrow’s NBA Finals Game 5

A pair of Miami Heat stars said all the right things going into tomorrow’s NBA Finals Game 5. Here’s the Miami Herald on it:

History is not on the Miami Heat’s side, but players and coaches remain confident.

Trailing the Los Angeles Lakers 3-1 in the NBA Finals, the Heat faces an elimination game for the first time this postseason in Game 5 on Friday (9 p.m., ABC).

“We all believe that we can get this thing done,” Heat All-Star wing Jimmy Butler said Thursday, with a two-day pause between Tuesday’s Game 4 and Friday’s Game 5. “Ain’t nobody going home yet. We’re still here.”

Heat All-Star center Bam Adebayo said: “We’ve got a chance. We still believe. They’re writing us off. Everybody is doubting us. But as long as the people in the locker room and all of our coaching staff have belief in us, that’s all that matters.”

Of course, it’s no surprise that players are speaking positively about their situation in a playoff series. But it’s always interesting to see exactly what players have to say about it. This Heat squad has proven its ability to compete with any team in the league. They do have to take it game-by-game.

As of today, it still sounds like Heat guard Goran Dragic won’t play in Game 5, but of course we’ll monitor that tomorrow.

Lakers beat Heat 102-96, take 3-1 lead in NBA Finals

LA Times: “In Game 4 of the NBA Finals, the Lakers found a way. They had just enough to come out ahead 102-96 and take a 3-1 series lead over the Heat in the best-of-seven series and are now one win away from securing the franchise’s 17th championship. James led the Lakers, scoring 28 points, eight assists and 12 rebounds, while Davis scored 22 points, with four assists and nine rebounds, distinguishing himself with his stifling defense on Miami star Jimmy Butler. James and Davis each made eight of 16 shots attempted. The importance of this game wasn’t lost on the Lakers. They were on edge after their Game 3 loss Sunday, unhappy with how that game unfolded. Just in case, James wanted them to know just how important it was to him.”

Miami Herald: “Lakers All-Star forward LeBron James seemed to control the second half of Game 4, with 20 points on 5-of-8 shooting, nine rebounds and four assists during the final two quarters. He scored only eight points on 3-of-8 shooting in the first half. James finished Los Angeles’ victory with 28 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and six turnovers. Five of his six turnovers came in the first half. The Lakers’ second star was also very good in Game 4. Big man Anthony Davis recorded 22 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four blocks in the win. Davis and James combined for 34 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks in the second half.”

Miami Herald: Heat All-Star wing Jimmy Butler followed up his historic 40-point Game 3 triple-double performance by almost picking up another triple-double. He finished Tuesday’s loss with 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting, 10 rebounds, nine assists and three steals, as the Lakers used Davis and James to defend Butler for most of the game.

Miami Herald: “Adebayo was relatively effective in his return Tuesday, finishing with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, seven rebounds and one assist in 33 minutes. On the defensive end, Adebayo took on the challenge of guarding Davis during stretches. But Adebayo was quiet in the fourth quarter, with two points on one shot, one rebound and zero assists in the period.”

Miami Herald: “This is the Heat team that steamrolled Indiana in the first round of the playoffs and then eliminated Giannis Antetokounmpo and No. 1 seed Milwaukee in the second. The Lakers with LeBron and A.D. were supposed to dominate fifth-seeded Miami, which didn’t even make the playoffs the year before. And that was before starters and key players Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic were lost to injuries in the series. Dragic remains out with a foot injury, tearfully, as he described it Tuesday. Adebayo played well in his return, though surely not 100 percent.”

OC Register: KCP, as he’s known to Laker Nation’s resident fans and critics, finished with 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting. That offensive production included a couple of big buckets late that helped L.A. wrestle a hard-fought victory away from the Miami Heat in the bubble at Lake Buena Vista, Florida. With the Lakers leading only 90-88 and about 3 minutes left, Caldwell-Pope sprinted to the corner in transition, ready and awaiting LeBron James’ pass, which he caught, shot and converted for one of his three corner 3-pointers of the night. “That’s really one of my specialties,” Caldwell-Pope said. “I’m always running from end to end, corner to corner.” Moments later, Caldwell-Pope let the Lakers breathe yet easier when he got Duncan Robinson to bite on a fake at the top of the key, blew past the Heat guard and flew all the way to the rim for a soaring and sensationally timed layup off the backboard that made it 95-88 with 2:02 to go.

OC Register: With two minutes left in the fourth game of the NBA Finals, Caldwell-Pope found himself with the ball and Miami’s Duncan Robinson guarding him. That invited Caldwell-Pope to burst to the bucket and put the Lakers up by seven, and then Davis and Rajon Rondo expanded that cushion. The Lakers now lead, 3-1, with this 102-96 win. Like the steamfitters and stampers and fabricators that they resembled, they took a shower after they worked. “We don’t really have a third scorer,” Kyle Kuzma said, after he and the rest of the Laker bench outscored Miami’s reserves 27-14 and had 14 rebounds. “Our scorers are AD and LeBron, and then the rest of us play team basketball. Any of us can step up at any time.”

LeBron, Lakers had turnover problem in NBA Finals Game 3

NBA Finals Game 4 is Tuesday night. Here’s the OC Register with some LeBron James-related analysis from Game 3:

LeBron James, who walked off the court early Sunday night in frustration, said having lost once wasn’t exactly a call to urgency for the Lakers — he’s tried to stay in that mode for the entire series.

“Until the series is completed, I kind of stay on edge, stay locked in on the job at hand,” he said. “Obviously, no one wants to ever lose. You hate that feeling, especially when you know you didn’t play your best, and I definitely wasn’t at my best last night from an individual standpoint.”

The mistake James highlighted was 20 team turnovers, eight he gave up himself. Miami scored 17 points off those giveaways. While James called them “careless,” Coach Frank Vogel was careful to give credit to the Heat for making the Lakers work on their ball movement.

“We were careless in some situations, but I think they took four charges throughout the game, they fronted the post, forced us to make difficult post entry passes,” he said.

Examining how Lakers defense may change in NBA Finals should Heat get Bam Adebayo back

If the Heat get Bam Adebayo back, they should play better against the Lakers in NBA Finals Game 4 and beyond, right? That’s a perfectly logical assumption. And it’s probably true. But to look at things from a different angle, here’s the LA Times:

From the Lakers’ perspective, they have a more effective and traditional defensive unit when Miami Heat All-Star center Bam Adebayo plays in the NBA Finals.

Adebayo hasn’t played in the last two games and called himself “day to day” because of a neck injury, leaving him uncertain for Game 4 on Tuesday night against the Lakers at AdventHealth Arena. His teammate, guard Goran Dragic, said Monday he was unsure when he would be able to play again after missing Games 2 and 3 with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot.

At 6 feet 9, Adebayo plays closer to the basket than his backups, and that allows the Lakers to play to their defensive strengths with the physical 6-10 Dwight Howard and the long-armed 6-10 Anthony Davis at center.

Adebayo has the ability to initiate Miami’s offense, but he doesn’t venture outside very much to score, which allows the Lakers to protect the basket better.

Finals Game 4 is Tuesday night.

Status of Bam Adebayo upgraded to questionable for NBA Finals Game 4

There’s a hint of good news coming in the form of an injury report today. Here’s the Miami Herald on it:

The chances of Bam Adebayo returning for Game 4 of these NBA Finals rose on Monday afternoon when the Miami Heat upgraded his status from doubtful to questionable. But Heat guard Goran Dragic said he’s unlikely to play in Game 4 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday – he’s listed as doubtful – and that there’s no timetable for his return.

Adebayo (neck strain) and Dragic (torn plantar fascia in left foot) did not play for the second consecutive game Sunday after exiting Game 1 against the Los Angeles Lakers because of their injuries.

Adebayo said he hasn’t been told by team doctors and coaches if he will be permitted to play in Game 4 on Tuesday (9 p.m., ABC). But hours later, the Heat upgraded him to questionable.

We’re calling it a hint of good news, because there’s no way to know exactly how close Adebayo is to being 100 percent. Hopefully for the Heat he’s ready to go. His exact status may not be known until just before game-time.

Heat center Bam Adebayo hopes to play soon

The Heat need health, and quickly. Sure, they won NBA Finals Game 3 vs. the Lakers last night, but they still face a seriously uphill battle right now. Getting Bam Adebayo back for Game 4 would be a really nice boost. Here’s the Sun Sentinel with the latest on their two main injured players:

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo said Monday he is hopeful for a return to the NBA Finals as soon as Tuesday night’s Game 4, with teammate Goran Dragic with a far less optimistic outlook.

The two have missed the past two games of the best-of-seven series against the Los Angeles Lakers, after being injured in Wednesday’s Game 1 loss. The Heat then also lost Friday’s Game 2, before rallying behind Jimmy Butler’s 40-point triple-double to win Sunday’s Game 3.

Adebayo has been out with a neck strain, Dragic with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot.

The Heat can’t expect Jimmy Butler to put up monster games like yesterday’s 40-point triple-double. They need Adebayo back, and soon.

Adebayo’s status for Game 4 might not be known until tomorrow afternoon, or even just before it begins.