Game 5 is a defining moment as the Los Angeles Lakers are fighting to win a championship while the Miami Heat is fighting to survive. Both teams know that desperation will be the key to winning.
The dire need to win is palpable, the Lakers franchise changed their uniform scheme to the Black Mamba jerseys. The Lakers have gone undefeated in the Mamba uniforms during their time in the Playoffs.
For forward Anthony Davis, losing in the Mamba uniforms makes him feel like he is letting down the late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
“For all the things that happened this season with our team specifically and our organization, to be able to close it out in the Black Mamba uniforms, it will make it all worth it,” Davis said. “If we come in and do the things that we’re supposed to do on both ends of the floor than we can remain undefeated.”
When it comes to close-out games during the 2020 Playoffs, Lakers forward LeBron James has the mindset of matching the same level of drive and hunger as his opponents.
“I’ve been victorious after having that mindset,” James said. “It’s just who I am, It’s just the way I prepare my mind, prepare my body, prepare for the moment and just having that desperation.”
Heat forward Bam Adebayo mentioned how they must be desperate in order to win, he is recovering from a shoulder and a neck injury. He was sidelined through Game 2 and 3 but returned to the hardwood in Game 4, where he scored 15 points and seven rebounds.
He said that forward Jae Crowder encouraged him to play freely during the match up and not focus on his injuries while competing.
“I was hesitant, I don’t want to get bumped in the shoulder,” Adebayo said. “Jae (Crowder), came up to me, he [said] ‘is over, you’re out there now.’ Just locking into that, you forget about it. So, I just forgot about it, I was just out there just trying to make plays.”
Veteran guard Gordan Dragic is doubtful to play Game 5 because of his torn plantar fascia. He desired to play in Game 4, but struggled during pregame warm-ups.
Heat forward Jimmy Butler noted that he had to give the team more than points for them to extend the series.
“I got to rebound the basketball better, I have to get my guys involved,” he said. “I got to really lock down on the defensive end, I got to be able to guard everybody.”
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel presumed the Heat will make adjustments for Game 5 and designed their workout on Thursday with that in mind. The main priority for Vogel and the team is to take care of the task at hand.
“The result has never been on the forefront of our minds,” he said. “We’re not thinking about win or lose, we’re thinking about how to guard pick and rolls, how to execute better offensively without turning the basketball over.”
Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma noted how the Lakers’ approach is to thwart the Heats’ tactics.
“I think the biggest thing is just control what we can control and understand what the Miami Heat is trying to do to be successful on their end,” he said. “And just try to take away from what they’re really trying to do.”
Game 5 of the NBA Finals will tip-off at 6:00 P.M. on Friday, October 9.