Lowe on Heat-Lakers: The five big numbers to watch in Game 5

7:10 AM ET

Almost every competitive playoff series reaches a point of strategic equilibrium. All the big adjustments have been made. All that is left is to rearrange the fringes: making tiny rotation tweaks; layering counter atop counter to sets the opponent has smothered in their basic forms; varying the location of those sets. It is a search for any edge that might last two possessions.

Barring the return of Goran Dragic, it felt like the NBA Finals reached that equilibrium in Game 4. Both defenses optimized. Bam Adebayo started the game on Anthony Davis, leaving Jae Crowder jostling with Dwight Howard. Howard couldn’t exploit that size mismatch, and had trouble chasing Miami shooters pinging off Adebayo picks. Frank Vogel started Markieff Morris in Howard’s place in the second half.

Davis defended Jimmy Butler, and ducked under screens — averting the switches and resulting mismatches Butler had brutalized in Miami’s Game 3 win. LeBron James toggled on to Adebayo, allowing the Lakers to switch any Butler-Adebayo action.

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Fri., Oct. 9: Game 5,

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