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Will the Lakers bust the Heat zone again in Game 3?

Lakers forward Anthony Davis elevates for a jumper against the Heat during Game 2 on Friday.
Lakers forward Anthony Davis elevates for a jumper against the Heat during Game 2 on Friday night.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Miami Heat have tried to slow down the Lakers offense in the NBA Finals by utilizing a zone defense. It has worked in one regard: limiting the Lakers’ shots inside the restricted area.

The Heat’s zone defense also led the Lakers, a mediocre long-range shooting team at best, to attempt 47 three-pointers, the most in franchise playoff history as well as an NBA Finals record. The previous high in the Finals was by the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers with 45 during Game 4 in 2017.

The Heat’s zone defense during Game 2 limited the Lakers’ opprotunities in the restricted area, where Miami held a 42-38 advantage on layups and dunks. The only other advantage the Heat had in Game 2 was outscoring the Lakers at the free-throw line, 31-10.

The Lakers still earned a 124-114 victory in Game 2 and will look to take what has proved to be an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Finals on Sunday night.

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“We’re going to continue to encourage our guys to shoot those shots,” Lakers forward Anthony Davis said. “If you’re open, there should be no hesitation whether you should shoot the three or not, no matter if you’re 0 for 10 or 0 for whatever. You want you to keep shooting because we know those shots are going to fall for us.”

The Lakers were extremely efficient on offense despite making only 34.5% of their three-pointers. They had the third-best offensive efficiency rating (134.8 points per 100 possessions) in the Finals since that date became available by converting nine of 11 shots in the lane outside the restricted area and sinking five of their 12 mid-range shots. They made 16 of 47 long-range shots.

The Heat, who likely will be without center Bam Adebayo (neck) and point guard Goran Dragic (foot) because of injuries for a second consecutive game, were also highly effective in Game 2 with an offensive efficiency rating of 125.3.

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“We definitely were not happy with our performance defensively tonight,” James said Friday. “Hopefully we can be — well, we know, not hopefully, we know we can be better in Game 3.”

Wire and internet reports contributed to this story.

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