NBA Finals Betting Angles: Lakers Adjustment on Jimmy Butler Makes Game 5 a Tough Pick

Credit:

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jimmy Butler

  • The Lakers made an adjustment in Game 4 of the NBA Finals: Dare Jimmy Butler to shoot. And it seemed to work.
  • Entering Game 5, the Heat are 7-point underdogs, but given the uncertainty that comes from Butler's willingness -- or lack thereof -- to take 3s, this is a tough line to bet.
  • Matt Moore breaks the whole thing down below.

Heat vs. Lakers Game 5 Betting Odds

Heat Odds +7 [BET NOW]
Lakers Odds -7 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +250/-320 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 216.5 [BET NOW]
Time 9 p.m. ET
TV ABC

Odds via PointsBet, where you can get $250 FREE instantly after signing up AND your bets automatically sync to the Action app. Learn more about BetSync here.


There’s a point where an adjustment comes from a coach and the other team doesn’t have a response.

It’s a tipping point. The Warriors stopped guarding Tony Allen in 2015. The Lakers mirrored Nikola Jokic’s minutes with Dwight Howard this season. The Raptors had all of the Warriors get hurt. You know, key adjustments.

The Lakers may have found theirs vs. the Heat in Game 4.

Dare Jimmy Butler to shoot 3’s.

There’s so much irony in this. The Heat are in the Finals largely on their shooting. They bombed from deep vs. the Bucks vs. their drop coverage. They cooked the Celtics off the dribble. Miami had the best effective field goal percentage of any team in the Eastern Conference in these playoffs.

But Butler … doesn’t want to shoot 3’s for some reason. It’s not that he can’t. He just doesn’t. The Lakers decided to outright dare him to do that which he didn’t want to in Game 4. And … he didn’t.

On this early possession, the Lakers go under the screen on Butler. You would never do this vs. any other “superstar” wing in the league. Steph Curry, James Harden, even LeBron James, they would all shoot off this look.

Butler’s not even making a read here, he’s just executing the trigger here. Look how much space the Lakers are giving him here:

That’s an ocean of space.

And Butler just stares out at it like an old man who never learned to swim.

When the Heat tried to slip screens as a counter, the Lakers just denied the switch. But in the interim between that sequence, there’s a moment where Butler was free of Davis who guarded him most of the game, and he just … let it pass.

Davis was credited with shutting down Butler, and to be sure, being guarded by a 7-foot pterodactyl is tough. But there’s space here.

Butler took three 3-pointers in Game 4, missing all of them.

Butler has Kyle Kuzma — Kyle Kuzma! — on an island here and lets him off the hook.

 

So now the question becomes, what does this mean for Game 5?

Butler can counter by being more aggressive.  Butler shot better than 35% from 3-point range in the previous three seasons before this year when his attempts dropped to just 2.1 per game. He can also try and attack the rim more and make tough shots over Davis.

I wrote before Game 4 that Butler was unlikely to go for 30-or-more, which is what the Heat needed, in back-to-back games. He didn’t (and then Lakers -7.5 got ruined by Tyler Herro shooting a 3-pointer down nine with one second on the clock when they had no intention of fouling, no I’m not angry why do you ask).

Butler may not be able to counter. League personnel queried before Game 5 all responded that without Goran Dragic at 100% and playing as he did coming into the bubble — which was better than he’d played in five years — the Heat have no shot of coming back in this series.

But they might be able to drag this out. Game 5 has to be a stay-away, and not just because Tyler Herro made me feel as if my stomach was being dragged out of the husk of my body with a fish hook when he hit that backdoor three.

Miami can hang, but the Lakers are better and have found an adjustment the Heat, and specifically, Jimmy Butler may not have the ability to re-adjust to without Dragic. If Dragic plays, the line moves in correlation and there’s still no value.

But if you’ve got Lakers futures or the series price … you should feel pretty good.

[Bet Now at PointsBet and win $125 if the Lakers make a 3.]

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