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Lakers-Heat Game 2 quietly featured offensive explosion

Lakers star Anthony Davis vs. Heat in NBA Finals Game 2

ORLANDO, FL - OCTOBER 2: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks the ball during the game against the Miami Heat during Game Two of the NBA Finals on October 2, 2020 at The AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

The favored Lakers led by double digits nearly the entire second half of their 124-114 win in Game 2 the NBA Finals. The pace was slow. Los Angeles attempted a Finals record 47 3-pointers… and missed 31 of them (one shy of a Finals record).

The game’s relatively dull stylings disguised historically efficient scoring.

The Lakers’ offensive rating (136.0) was the the third-highest on record in a Finals game. The Heat’s offensive rating (125.1) was the highest for a Finals loser.

Their combined offensive rating – 261.1 – is the second-highest in an NBA Finals game since the NBA began tracking turnovers in 1973-74:*

pbt lakers heat game 2 offensive explosion

*Offensive ratings are Basketball-Reference estimates.

It’s extremely unlikely a pre-1974 Finals game featured higher a higher offensive rating than on this leaderboard. The first five seasons with turnovers tracked had the lowest league-wide offensive ratings on record.

The top offensive NBA Finals game on record was 2017 Game 4, when the Cavaliers outgunned the full-strength Warriors, 137-116. Cleveland’s offensive rating (142.6) set a single-game Finals record.

The Celtics, who posted an 138.8 offensive rating in their 131-92 Game 6 win over the Lakers in 2008, are the only other team to top Los Angeles’ Game 2 offensive rating in a Finals game.

In part because their long-range bombing attracted so much defensive attention, the Lakers shot 66% inside the arc. Los Angeles also hit the offensive glass hard, scoring 21 second-chance points – a massive number considering the Lakers’ first-shot efficiency and the limited number of possessions.

Miami shot well on both 2-pointers and 3-pointers but really made hay from the line. The Heat shot 31-for-34 on free throws (91%)!

Is this sustainable in Game 3 tonight?

With Bam Adebayo still sidelined, Anthony Davis holds a big advantage. That said, Davis might not continue to knock down mid-rangers like he did in Game 2.

And if the Lakers aren’t in such control, they might play sharper defense. They had multiple breakdowns that didn’t really matter Friday.

Or maybe Los Angeles’ role players will make more than 32% of their 3-pointers. The Lakers still have LeBron James and Davis, which means supporting players will get clean perimeter looks (often on pinpoint passes from LeBron). Danny Green (1-for-8 on 3-pointers in Game 2) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (2-for-11) are capable of heating up.

Miami will have a tougher time sustaining scoring without Goran Dragic. Jimmy Butler (25 points and 13 assists) put the Heat on his back in Game 2, but he’s not a dependable enough creator to offset Dragic’s absence.

At the very minimum, though, both teams showed their high offensive ceilings in Game 2.