With the Lakers’ Game 2 win over the Heat, LeBron James now has his first 2-0 lead in his 10th career NBA Finals appearance. And yet, he may not be the favorite to win Finals MVP.
That’s impossible, right? Nope, that’s just how good Anthony Davis has been through the first two games of the series.
Davis followed his 34-9-5 line from Game 1 with 32 points and 14 rebounds Friday night while shooting an absurd 15 of 20 from the field. The All-Star forward was an unstoppable force from the opening tip, hitting 12 of his first 13 attempts.
“I expect him to get 50 every night,” Lakers guard Rajon Rondo said after Game 2. “I may take for granted just playing with a guy like that, that’s so efficient. … He’s damn near playing like the best player in the game.”
It’s easy to fall into hyperbole traps after big performances, and it should be noted the Heat were without two starters in Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo. The lack of frontcourt depth became painfully obvious with Davis grabbing eight offensive rebounds and scoring 22 points in the paint.
But Davis has been doing this all playoffs long, regardless of who has been standing in front of him. The Trail Blazers’ traditional bigs, the Rockets’ small-ball style, the Heat’s zone — nothing slows Davis down. He is matchup-proof.
Oh, right, he’s also one of the best defenders in the league, so you can’t play him off the floor.
“His mindset is he wants to be a champion. He’s extremely motivated to play at a high level, and you’re seeing it every time he steps onto the floor,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “Obviously, defensively, he’s a unicorn, in my opinion the Defensive Player of the Year. His shot-making, the many ways that he can hurt you offensively — in the post, rolling to the basket, working the baseline like he did against the zone, working the middle, shooting 3s from the perimeter.
“It’s just very unique, and you can just see his determination to win this championship on both sides of the ball.”
Adebayo told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes he believes he will be available for Game 3 and that the Heat need to play like a “desperate team.” They can’t play at their highest level without Adebayo, who is the closest thing to a Davis stopper the Heat possess.
At this stage, though, Adebayo’s presence may not matter much. Take it from a guy who has been here a few times. When this version of Davis shows up, there are no answers.
“He’s a big-time player,” James told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “He understands the position that he’s in. He understands how much our team needs him, and he comes through.”
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