Even without two starters, Jimmy Butler put on a dazzling performance with a 40-point triple-double to lead the Miami Heat to their first victory in the 2020 NBA Finals. The gutsy performance inspired the Heat, who now know they’re capable of hanging with the LA Lakers despite falling behind in the first two games. Coming into Game 4 of the NBA Finals, the Heat trail the Lakers 2-1.

LA Lakers Miami Heat NBA Finals Game 4 Jimmy Butler LeBron James
LeBron James (Lakers) and Jimmy Butler (Heat) battling during Game 3 of the NBA Finals. (Image: Mark J. Terrill/AP)

The Heat are +7.5 underdogs in tonight’s game, but are 14-4 ATS in the postseason, and 13-5 straight up.

The Lakers only lost three games in the entire postseason, but followed up every loss with a victory.

Goran Dragic, who came into the NBA Finals as the Heat’s leading scorer in the postseason, most likely won’t play in Game 4 with a painful foot injury. Bam Adebayo missed Game 2 and Game 3 with a shoulder and neck injury. He will be a game-time decision, but his status has been upgraded to questionable, which gives Heat fans a sliver of hope.

LA Lakers (2-1) vs Miami Heat (1-2)
  • Tip-off: 6pm PT
  • Point Spread: LAL -7.5
  • Total: 218.5o/u
  • Moneyline: LAL -320 / MIA +275

A victory in Game 4 would put the Lakers ahead 3-1 in the NBA Finals, and just one win away from the championship.

A victory in Game 4 for the Heat would tie up the NBA Finals at 2-2.

According to a recent update by DraftKings, the Lakers are -1667 odds to win the series, while the Heat are +900.

Bounce-Back for Lakers

After two strong games to start the NBA Finals, the Lakers faltered in Game 3.

LeBron James fell short of a triple-double in Game 4, but he led the Lakers with 25 points, 10 rebound, and eight assists. He couldn’t muscle his way to a win and accepted full responsibility.

“Obviously, no one wants to ever lose,” said LeBron. “You hate that feeling, especially when you know you didn’t play your best, and I definitely wasn’t at my best from an individual standpoint. I take that responsibility, and I take that with a lot of passion and understanding of how I can be much better in the following game.”

Davis had a quiet game with 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists. The officials neutered Davis on the defensive end with a couple of quick fouls in the first half. Once Davis got out of sync, the rest of the Lakers looked flat.

The Lakers are 3-0 in the 2020 playoffs after a loss. They’re poised for a win in Game 4 thanks to Davis who averages 33 points per bounce-back game.

“Trust me, we’ll be fine,” said a confident Davis.

Jimmy Buckets Reprise?

Kelly Olynyk stepped up with Adebayo out and provided the Heat with additional firepower off the bench. In Game 3’s victory, Olynyk scored 17 points as a reserve, including going 3-for-5 from 3-point range. In Game 2, Olynyk added 24 points and nine rebounds off the bench.

If the Heat get Adebayo back, it would give them a huge lift on the defensive end.

The Heat’s snipers, Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro, combined for 30 points in Game 3. They still struggled from downtown (5-for-17 combined), but they added timely long-range bombs whenever Butler found them open on the perimeter.

If the Heat needs Butler to score 40 again, he’ll do it, even though he likes to pass first.

“Obviously, this was a very desperate urgent game and he was doing it on both ends of the court, just put his imprint on every important part of the game,” said head coach Erik Spoelstra. “He’s in the top percentile of this entire NBA in terms of conditioning and you saw he just got stronger as the game went on.”

I can’t wait for Game 4 to tip-off. We have a potential classic battle brewing between LeBron and Butler. The two were trash-talking each other in Game 3. LeBron taunted early on, “You’re in trouble!” Butler got the last laugh and at the end of the game shot back, “You’re in trouble!”

“Love it,” said LeBron about the battle with Butler. “Love it. One of the best competitors we have in our game. We love that opportunity. For me personally, I don’t know how many more opportunities I’m going to have. To be able to go against a fierce competitor like that is something I’ll look back on when I’m done playing.”

Will LeBron put the clampdown on Butler early in Game 4? Or will we see a reprise performance from Jimmy Buckets?

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