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Lakers plan to continue utilizing their superior depth against Heat in NBA Finals

Laker players hype each other before Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Heat in Orlando.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

This NBA Finals is a series in which the Lakers appear to have the superior depth, and they aren’t afraid to throw body after body at the Miami Heat.

The Lakers used nine players during the apex of their victory in Game 1 on Wednesday night, and more of the same can be expected in Game 2 on Friday night at AdvertHealth Arena on the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla.

Though Anthony Davis (38 minutes) and LeBron James (36), the team’s two superstars, spent the most time on the court, they were supplemented by the other top role players playing at least 18 minutes in that first game.

Perhaps, the feeling is, the Lakers can wear down the Heat, which mostly goes seven deep and has three injured players, two who might not play tonight — center Bam Adebayo has a strained neck and point guard Goran Dragic tore the planta fascia in his left foot.

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Lakers star LeBron James says addition of another alpha in Anthony Davis has been a good fit because there is no jealousy on the team.

“We’re going to play the guys that are going to help us win that stretch,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said in a videoconference Thursday. “Whether that means nine-man rotation, 10-man rotation. We want to keep fresh bodies in there as much as possible, which I probably overextended a couple guys in certain stretches [Wednesday] night. I have to be careful about that.

“But the way this [Miami] team plays, it makes sense to only use one of our bigs. That could potentially be JaVale [McGee] at some point in this series because even though we’re using Dwight’s physicality right now to start, I think [McGee’s] length could present a problem for them on the defensive end. So, everybody on our team has got to stay ready and we’ll approach each game with the combinations we feel like are going to win that game.”

The Miami Heat are in full-scale recovery mode after a meltdown in Game 1. Now center Bam Adebayo and point guard Goran Dragic are doubtful for Friday night.

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In their first 16 playoff games, the Lakers have four players averaging in double figures, led by Davis’ 29.1 points and James’ 26.6 points per game.

They have had nine players playing at least 17 minutes per game during the postseason, and the 7-foot McGee, whose minutes have decreased because many opponents feature smaller lineups, is not far behind at 9.6.


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