NBA Finals Game 4 Betting Angles: Lakers Should Rebound Against Heat

Credit:

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler, left, and Los Angeles Lakers standout Anthony Davis.

  • Jimmy Butler had arguably the second-greatest statistical performance in an NBA Finals game. Anthony Davis spend most of Sunday's game in foul trouble.
  • How will those two players and their perform in a critical Game 4?
  • Matt Moore looks at all the angles in tonight's Finals matchup between the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers.

Lakers vs. Heat Game 4 Betting Odds

Lakers Odds -7.5 [BET NOW]
Heat Odds +7.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -335/+275 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 218.5 [BET NOW]
Time 9 p.m. ET
TV ABC

Odds as of Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


Thanks to a historic postseason performance from Jimmy Butler, the Miami Heat are alive and kicking  in the NBA Finals.

Butler recorded a triple double, leading Miami to a 115-104 victory Sunday in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series. The Lakers now hold a 2-1 advantage, with Game 4 on deck Tuesday.

Let’s take a look at what happened in that Miami win and see what’s in store in the pivotal Game 4 showdown:

BETTING ANGLES

BUTLER WAS AWESOME

Words fail for what Jimmy Butler did against the Lakers in that Game 3 triumph. The Heat’s leader went for 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists for a triple double. He added two blocks, two steals and drew 11 fouls, helping to deliver a win down two regular starters.

Butler deserves all the credit in the world for taking his team on his shoulders on the biggest stage against a dominant Los Angeles defense. However, we need to be realistic about who Butler is, has been in the past, and what we can expect moving forward.

 

For starters, let’s look at some history. Since 2015, when Butler became an All-Star, he has scored 30 points or more in a playoff game nine times out of 53 games, which translates to just 16% of the time. That’s a lot for most players in the NBA. However, for comparison, Damian Lillard has scored 30 or more in 15 of 44 games (34%) since 2015 in the playoffs.

This isn’t to say that Lillard is better than Butler. The point is that Butler picks his spots. He’s not putting up numbers every game, which is what the Heat needs to beat the Lakers, especially without Goran Dragic out and Bam Adebayo hobbled.

Thinking of Butler reminds me of a very obscure reference. In the 1993 movie thriller, “Rising Sun” (which is, upon reflection in 2020 aka extremely problematic), actors Wesley Snipes and Sean Connery are going to interrogate Japanese business executives after a murder. Before they head into the building, Connery tells Snipes after Snipes has essentially played bad cop, he’ll come in late and say, “Perhaps I can be of assistance.”

This even got referenced in Space Jam:

Going back to Butler, the point is this is how he tends to play. He picks his spots and plays a team game. So, when he has a massive game that leads to a win, it feels much bigger. Let me put it this way: Butler isn’t expected to perform like Lillard, James Harden, etc., so when he does, it feels transcendent.

The problem is that the Heat need him to play like that every game to win it all.

There were major adjustments that occurred in Game 3. Most notably, the Heat figured out how to play with Butler next to shooting bigs in Meyers Leonard and Kelly Olynyk. The Lakers got away from their core game plan and started being more concerned about more than Butler, taking a lackadaisical approach and he burned them for it.

If you look at the play in this clip below, Butler runs pick-and-roll with Olynyk, who shot 3-of-5 from deep. Watch how the defense stays home, with Anthony Davis not committing to any help defense to respect Olynyk:

 

In this next clip, this is an extremely tough shot from Butler, who is in isolation against LeBron James, driving left and shooting right-handed on a jump-stop. Markieff Morris gets hung in the corner from helping, because of the off-ball action with Olynyk.

 

 

With Butler and Olynyk playing together, the Heat had a 120 Offensive Rating and outscored the Lakers by eight. The numbers were even better with Leonard on the floor. So, there are positive adjustments Miami is making as this series goes on and as its bigs get more comfortable.

Ultimately, though, I don’t have confidence in Butler having back-to-back dominant performances. It’s simply not who he’s been during his career.

THE ANGLE: DAVIS WILL BOUNCE BACK

Anthony Davis was basically absent in Game 3. Early foul trouble was the issue, limiting him to just just 33 minutes. He finished with a paltry 15 points, and a -26 in the defeat. That all said, it was a bad game.

However, there’s no reason to think that is going to continue.

Davis scored fewer than 20 points only 16 times this season. In the subsequent games, the Lakers are 12-4 straight up. They were just 6-10 against the spread in those spots, but with an average line of -10.5. When favored by fewer than 10 points, the Lakers improve to 5-7 ATS after Davis has a down game.

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Davis had a miserable Game 3 against the Denver Nuggets, but responded with a monster finish to the series.

The likely return of Adebayo doesn’t help matters. Erik Spoelstra may realize he needs two bigs on the floor at all times, but the combination of Leonard and Adebayo in Game 1 got ran. Adebayo doesn’t have the size to match up with Davis, especially if Davis continues to shoot the way he has.

I need to see the Heat actually figure something out before I doubt Davis. He’s been too dominant in these playoffs.

There’s also the simple effort level, which extended from Davis throughout the Lakers. LA just didn’t try very hard. That’s an easy and seemingly lazy narrative, but it consistently shows when you go back and watch the clips. The Lakers looked very much like a team that thought they had the series won.

Now, this can sometimes snowball. The LA Clippers kept saying they were fine against the Nuggets, who kept hitting the Clips until they cracked.

However, the Lakers have been mentally tougher, have better leadership and have stronger team identity. James will get them refocused and a veteran roster will recognize its failings after film and respond.

Pick: Lakers -7.5

Analysis: I’d rather get this under 6.5 points, obviously, but I’m comfortable all the way to -9.5. The Lakers have been the better team. It took a monster game from Butler and it’s unlikely he replicates it in this spot. I don’t think Adebayo’s return helps either.

The Lakers have won games by an average of 13 points in the three games following a loss this postseason and won by 14 in all of the victories. So, if we assume the Lakers bounce back and win this game, then the number has value below at least 10.

Other plays: Jimmy Butler under total points | Lakers first-quarter spread | Lakers 3rd quarter spread.

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