HANG your heads—you who considered a 4-0 sweep befalling the Heat was gospel truth. Rip me off. I was one of them fools. Guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
Well, the Los Angeles Lakers was a top seeded team in the first place. The Miami Heat, mere fifth. How can I not be that confident?
The Lakers routed their previous three postseason foes by 4-1 counts. If that feat’s not 4-0 worth enough, what is?
And then they made the broom quickly take form by inflicting Miami blowout losses of 116-98 and 124-114 in the first two games of the seven-game Finals.
But how quickly fortunes change in the NBA bubble now on its third patience-laden month at Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
With their 115-104 Game 3 win on Monday (PH time), the Heat appeared, frighteningly, like they were the resurrected back-to-back champions early this decade.
Only this time, their third-game hero was named Jimmy Butler and not LeBron James, the star in their 2013-2014 title wins who is now with the Lakers.
James was still the freight train that he is in spite of his 35-year-old knees, almost triple-doubling again in Game 3 with his 25 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists in 39 minutes.
But this time, Butler outshone The King in all triple-double departments, firing 40 points, grabbing 11 boards and issuing 13 assists in playing 45 of the game’s entire 48 minutes.
“I came to win,” Butler, 31, said. “I came to rebound.”
He also came as a true believer of Heat faith.
“I know we belong here,” he said. “That they can be beaten, too.”
Actually, the Lakers were almost thoroughly beaten because their chief gunner in the first two games was choked to a mere 15 points in 33 minutes.
Didn’t Anthony Davis bang home a two-game 66-point total on 34-32 efforts in Games 1 and 2—a performance that immediately produced early talks he’d run away with the Finals MVP?
Premature. Don’t count the chicks until hatch time, goes the saying.
And I must say AD’s (Davis) 15 meaningless points all came in the first three quarters. Alarming. His scoreless fourth quarter almost xeroxed his Game 2 finish of two measly points in the fourth frame.
That’s a leak Heat coach Erik Spoelstra could pounce on in Wednesday’s Game 4. Scary.