As far as game ones go, this was about as demoralising as it gets.
The NBA Finals are looking like they could be a victory procession for the Los Angeles Lakers after they overpowered the Miami Heat in a 116-98 win on Thursday.
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The Heat weren’t just beaten down on the scoreboard either — they lost All-Star big Bam Adebayo and starting point guard Goran Dragic to injuries.
The Lakers didn’t even need the best of LeBron James as Anthony Davis led the destruction.
If LA is to claim an NBA equal-best 17th championship it will be a hot race for Finals MVP after Davis put up 34 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks.
James was relatively well contained early in the contest before finishing with 25 points, nine assists and 13 rebounds.
It looked anything but an easy night for the Lakers after they fell behind by 13 points halfway through the first quarter as the Heat started red-hot.
But two critical moves by coach Frank Vogel helped stem the tide.
First Vogel yanked centre Dwight Howard from the line-up — and crucially opted to replace him with a guard instead of back-up big JaVale McGee.
He also stuck to his normal rotations by taking James out for his normal first quarter rest despite the Heat lead beginning to balloon out of control.
Both moves worked as the Lakers — driven by their bench — roared back to lead by quarter time before exploding to a 17-point margin at the half.
Told time and again they’re not a good outside shooting team, the Lakers had 11 triples at the half as eight separate players connected from downtown.
To make matters worse for the Heat star forward Jimmy Butler — after a great start — appeared to hurt his ankle late in the second quarter.
Butler battled on but Dragic (plantar tear of his left foot) and Adebayo (left shoulder) were absent in the second half in a big blow to Miami’s chances.
Six minutes into the third the margin was 32 points as Miami continued to misfire. It was junk time the rest of the way.
It’s only one game but it feels like a long way back from here — particularly if Dragic and Adebayo miss any more time.