Berlin/OrlandoAfter the important third win against the Miami Heat and the probably decisive step on the way to the NBA title, the two stars of the Los Angeles Lakers clapped each other. LeBron James maintains a special ritual with all of his fellow players, he and Anthony Davis also have a very individual sequence with their hands. After the bankruptcy two days earlier and criticism of the favorite’s too much self-confidence, the two leading players of the Lakers showed all their skills again on Tuesday evening (local time). The 102: 96 (49:47) was competitive – and the duo James and Davis made the difference.
“Both teams knew about the situation. Everyone fought for every ball, ”said James afterwards. “The job is not done yet. We now have an extra day off. We have to keep our heads awake. “
A total of nine changes in leadership, never more than a single-digit lead for a team, contested basket successes on both sides of the floor – game four of the final series in the strongest basketball league in the world offered the best entertainment. And a LeBron James with 28 counters, 12 rebounds and 8 templates. No player in the history of the NBA managed to play more playoff games with at least 25 points and 10 rebounds. James is in a final series for the tenth time in his career, something only three other basketball players have done before him.
All this experience prompted James to send a message to his teammates before the game: This game four must be won. “For me personally it was probably one of the biggest games of my career,” he said of his thoughts after his nap before the duel.
On the way to his personal fourth title – he won two championships with the Miami Heat, one with the Cleveland Cavaliers – James benefits in particular from his neighbor Davis. The eight years younger professional is playing for the championship in the NBA for the first time and does so at an impressively high level. “The way we can both hold ourselves accountable, no one can,” said James. “We push each other on, regardless of whether the ball was in or not.”
Davis came up with 22 points, nine rebounds and four assists – but was particularly valuable in defending Heat star player Jimmy Butler, who had scored 40 points in the 104: 115 defeat of the Lakers two days earlier. “The plan was to have Davis and James against him as often as possible,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “That’s what the playoffs are about: you have to adapt.”
It continues with game five on Saturday night (3:00 a.m. CEST). Then the decision could be made – and the Lakers could catch up with record champions Boston Celtics with their 17th title.