The Miami Heat’s return to the NBA Finals was marred by a series of injuries as the team got dominated by the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series, 116-98, Wednesday night at the Orlando bubble.
The Heat, already underdogs in the series, took a massive blow as three of its starters – Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo – all suffered injuries during the course of the game. Butler tweaked his left ankle in the first half but was able to return. The other two, however, were ruled out of the game.
Shortly after the loss, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported, citing an unnamed source, that Dragic suffered a plantar tear on his left foot and will be re-evaluated.
Wojnarowski followed up the report and shared, citing an anonymous source, that the Slovenian has been able to put pressure on his left foot and that a return to the series is still possible.
Adebayo, meanwhile, suffered a strained left shoulder with no other serious damages as the X-ray results reportedly turned out negative. Although hurt, the All-Star big man wants to play through the injury in Game 2 on Friday, AP sportswriter Tim Reynolds reported, citing an unnamed source.
With Dragic out, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra turned to Kendrick Nunn for the rest of the game. The undrafted rookie scored 18 points, but most of these came when the result of the match was already beyond doubt in favor of the Lakers.
Butler top-scored the Heat with 23 despite his injury. At post-game, the five-time All-Star spoke and offered his support for Dragic.
“I, and we, are here for (Dragic),” Butler said, ESPN reported. “We know how much he wants to win, how much he wants to go to war and battle with us. And obviously, we love him for that and we want him out there with us. But whatever the docs tell him to do, that’s what he’s got to do. … He’s got to take care of himself first.”
The Heat came out like a house on fire to start the game, leading L.A. by as much as 13 in the first quarter. But LeBron James and the rest of the Lakers quickly picked up their bearings and finished the frame ahead, 31-28. It was all Lakers since.
“You have to get a feel for how hard Miami plays,” James said. “They smacked us in the mouth and we got a sense of that. … From that moment when it was 23-10, we started to play to our capabilities.”
The Lakers led by as much as 32 points in the third quarter. James finished the game just an assist shy of another Finals triple-double with 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. Anthony Davis, meanwhile, led all scorers with 34.
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