NBA Finals notebook: Mamba jerseys back as Heat face must-win Game 5

Detroit News

Tim Reynolds
 |  AP Basketball Writer

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – The Mamba jerseys are coming back for a closeout opportunity.

The Los Angeles Lakers will wear the black jerseys with a snakeskin look – all designed by Kobe Bryant and now worn by the team in his honor – for Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Friday night. The Lakers lead the series 3-1.

The original schedule, released before the finals, called for the Lakers to wear purple jerseys in Game 5. The black jerseys were to be worn in Games 2 and 7; if this series goes seven, the Mamba jerseys are slated to return.

“Until you get your hands on them, you don’t get to see the detail in them. It’s super-duper detailed,” the Lakers’ LeBron James said. “It has that snake Mamba print on it. It means something. Something more than just a uniform. It represents an individual who gave the franchise 20 years of his blood, sweat and tears and his dedication to his craft, both on and off the floor, to make that franchise be proud of him, and hopefully vice versa.”

James said he doesn’t know why the uniform schedule was changed and that he wasn’t part of that decision.

Frank honored 

Lawrence Frank of the Los Angeles Clippers is the NBA’s executive of the year.

The league announced the voting Thursday. Frank got 10 of the 29 first-place votes, while Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti was second and Miami’s Pat Riley was third. There were 11 different executives with at least one first-place vote and 18 got a vote for first, second or third.

The Lakers’ Rob Pelinka was seventh.

“Once we finish our job and do what we’re supposed to do, then I don’t think no one is going to care about Executive of the Year,” Lakers forward Anthony Davis said.

Unlike most NBA end-of-season awards, the media panel is not involved in the executive voting. Only the executives themselves cast ballots for that award.

Facing elimination 

The Heat will have to win three elimination games to win this NBA championship, an obviously daunting task – but something the franchise has done before.

Miami went 3-0 in elimination games on the way to the title in 2013, winning a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals over Indiana and then rallying from a 3-2 deficit in the NBA Finals against San Antonio. The Heat went 3-1 when facing elimination in 2016 and 4-1 in win-or-go-home games in the 1997 playoffs.

Miami is 16-17 all-time when facing elimination.

Moving up 

Some milestones will be in sight Friday night.

Game 5 of the NBA Finals will be the 259th playoff game of LeBron James’ career, tying him with Derek Fisher for the lead on that list. James will hold at least a share of that record for several years at minimum; the closest active player on the playoff-appearance list is Miami’s Andre Iguodala, who has 164.

Miami’s Tyler Herro enters Friday ranked fifth on the rookie playoff scoring list; he has 316 points so far, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (352), Jayson Tatum (351), Alvan Adams (341) and Elgin Baylor (331). Herro has 45 3-pointers in the playoffs, a rookie record.

3-1 leads

There have been only 13 instances of a team rallying from 3-1 down in an NBA postseason series, two of those being turned in this year by the Denver Nuggets.

All-time, teams are 246-13 in series in which they took a 3-1 lead – a 95% victory rate.

And when the outcome sequence is win-win-loss-win, like the Lakers have done in these finals, the success rate is even a bit better. Since the NBA went to the 16-team playoff format in 1984, teams that have followed that exact sequence of results have gone 57-2 in the series – or 97%.

Facing LeBron 

Miami’s Andre Iguodala, if he plays another game in this series, would become the third player to oppose LeBron James in 30 playoff games.

The others: Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Their Boston teams went 17-13 against James’ Miami and Cleveland clubs in postseason matchups. Iguodala’s teams are 14-15 in the playoffs when facing James.

Here and there 

This is the highest-scoring postseason ever, with 17,769 points in the first 81 games. The previous mark was set in 2014, with 17,719 points in 89 games.

… The Lakers and Heat are separated by 11 points in bubble games; 3,006 for the Lakers, 2,995 for the Heat.

… Miami’s Jimmy Butler is the third player to have at least 20 points and five assists in each of his first four NBA Finals games, joining Michael Jordan (seven) and Oscar Robertson (four).

… Silly as it sounds, Miami could tie the NBA record for consecutive series with at least one “road” win by prevailing in Game 5. The Heat have won what counts as a road game in each of their last 22 playoff matchups; Golden State holds the record, having won one in each of its last 23. Games in the bubble do carry home and road designations, and the Lakers are the home team Friday.

NBA Finals

L.A. Lakers lead series, 3-1

All games on ABC

Sept. 30: L.A. Lakers 116, Miami 98

Oct. 2: L.A. Lakers 124, Miami 114

Oct. 4: Miami 115, L.A. Lakers 104

Oct. 6: L.A. Lakers 102, Miami 96

Oct. 9: Miami vs. L.A. Lakers, 9 p.m.

x-Oct. 11: L.A. Lakers vs. Miami, 7:30 p.m.

x-Oct. 13: Miami vs. L.A. Lakers, 9 p.m.

x-If necessary

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