- Graeme Simpson
3 Things To Look For In Game One
At last, the NBA Finals are here. It has been a little over 11 months since this season started and two teams remain. Miami vs Los Angeles is set to be a very historic series. Both teams are no stranger to the big stage. From the years 2008 to 2014, either Miami or LA participated in the finals that year. This is also the first NBA Finals where the games will be held at a neutral site and with no fans.
You can expect a competitive back and forth series. Both teams are relatively fresh and have steamrolled their competition. To me, there is no clear favorite. Sports blogs and websites have been all over the place with their predictions. I've seen a 73% chance Miami will win and a 71% chance for LAL. So no one quite knows how this series will play out. Here are some keys for each team to reach their full potential in Game 1 of this year's finals.
1. Miami's Zone Defense
The Miami Heat switched from Man-to-Man to a 2-3 zone during the Eastern Conference Finals. Spoiler alert, it worked. Boston had trouble figuring out the zone early on and it didn't help that they were getting cold from 3 either. How will LeBron respond to the 2-3 zone? Well, you would expect LeBron to devour a zone defense, but we can't be sure how many 3s the Lakers will knockdown. We all know how good LeBron's basketball IQ is, but how is his trust with teammates other than AD? these are questions that need to be answered by LA in game 1.
2. Three-Point Shooting
The three-point shot from both teams is going to be crucial in game 1. I believe whichever team gets hot from behind the arc, will be the team to come out with a win. Miami's approach to shooting is very different from LA's. With Miami, they have to have a good shooting performance, there is no other option. For LA they have shown they don't need to rely on the 3 ball in order to be successful. Of course, you can expect Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro to knock down a couple of three's, but Jae Crowder needs to hit shots, Goran Dragic needs to knock down his shots, even Andre Igoudala has entered this conversation because he has shown he is capable. For LA, Danny Green and KCP have to be better. Green and KCP have gotten a lot of backlash from the media due to their lackluster shooting. So, it will be crucial they respond to their critics. If I am the Lakers, I would also love to see Kuzma, Rondo, and Caruso to be a spark by hitting some shots from behind the arc.
3. Frank Vogel vs Erik Spoelstra
Without a doubt in my mind, at least two or three of these games will come down to a coaching chess match. It is easy to say the Spoelstra has the upper hand in the coaching battle, but we have to give Vogel more respect. Vogel, in his first season as head coach, is on his way to an NBA Finals appearance. No doubt, Spoelstra has the experience, but what can Vogel do counter Spoelstras tactics? Well, first of all, he's got, LeBron James. Also, I think we are also not giving Vogel enough credit for keeping his team calm during this year's playoff, especially after the Game 1 loss to Portland. On top of that, you could also argue that these two teams have to best assistant coaches in the league as well. So, while you are watching the game tonight, try to notice the little adjustments the coaches make. It will be one of the deciding factors in this game.
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