Lakers don’t need to be small to shoot

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How wrong the naysayers who thought the Lakers were could not connect from the distance!

When the Lakers give up the bank to acquire Anthony Davis and signed free agents Javale McGee, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo to team up with LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma, many thought it will be the Lakers’ downfall from a championship run because they can’t shoot.

Turns out the Lakers’ front office knows exactly how to build a championship team as the “tall” Lakers dominated three of the deadliest outside shooting teams on their way to the finals and made use of the three point shot as a vital weapon in cooling off the Miami Heat.

Their 5-game gentleman’s sweep of the Portland Trailblazers and the Houston Rockets and a 6-game series win over the Nuggets propelled them to the NBA finals.

It also turns out, the tall frontline structure of the team seems to encourage the Lakers to fire at will from long distance. They even pumped up the “smallball” play in the finals, successfully mixing it with their dominance in the paint.

It was originally thought that outside shooting will be one of the main advantages of the Heat going into the series. Miami was second in the NBA in accuracy during the regular season, connecting 979 conversions out of 2,584 attempts for a 37.9% clip. They were also 7th in the volume of 3-point shot taken compared to their total attempts. 41.9% of their total shot came from three point land.

The Lakers were just 21st in the regular season in accuracy, making 782 of 2,242 for a 34.9% clip. Only 35.8% of their total attempts are threes, 23rd overall.

Uncharacteristically, the Lakers attempted a NBA finals record 47 3-pointers Game 2 of the NBA Finals, making 16 of them for a 34% shooting clip. Their 47 attempts from three point land are the most by any team in NBA Finals history.

James’ previous team, the Cleveland Cavaliers previously owned the record with 45 attempts during Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had the most attempts with 11, making only two of them. James and Danny Green both attempted eight times, sinking three and one, respectively.

Anthony Davis, Markieff Morris, Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, and Alex Caruso combined for the remaining count, going 10 of 20.

Ironically, it’s the tall and supposed non-shooter Lakers who capitalized on the three-point shot as the purple and gold did not also disappoint in the other games.

They connected on 15 of 38 attempts in Game 1, 14 of 42 in Game 3, and 14 of 39 in Game 4, 14 of 38 in Game 5, and 11 of 35 in Game 6.

In case you lost count, that sums up to 84 of 239, 35.1% clip after four games. In contrast, the Heat could only manage 69 of 189, 36.5%.

That gave the Lakers a 15 point advantage from an area they’re supposed to make up by their advantage in the paint.

This turned to be a key advantage as the Lakers outscored the Heat by only 33 points in the entire six-game final series.

LeBron James was the best Laker outside threat, converting 15 of 36 treys for a 41.7% accuracy. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (13), Markkief Morris (12), and Danny Green (11) contributed over 10 each.

Duncan Robinson (18), Jae Crowder (13), and Tyler Herro (11) carried the cudgels for the Heat.

Robinson made 7 of his threes during Game 5, setting a new record for three pointers made by an undrafted player in an NBA Finals game. Gary Neal previously owned this record by making 6 for the San Antonio Spurs in 2013.

Incidentally, Only Stephen Curry (9) and Ray Allen (8) has hit more triples in a finals game than Robinson, who is tied with several others including popular TV analyst Kenny Smith.

By: Armando M. Bolislis

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