In his NBA Finals debut, Anthony Davis came to play.
He balled out for a game-high 34 points to go along with his nine rebounds, five assists, and three blocks as the Los Angeles Lakers cruised to a comfortable 116-98 Game 1 victory. The Heat simply had no answer to Davis and the size mismatch he created.
In his 38 minutes, he shot 11-of-21 from the field, knocked down two 3-pointers, shot a perfect 10-of-10 from the free-throw line, and was a game-high +23.
HIGHLIGHTS: @AntDavis23 goes off for 34 pts, 9 reb and 3 blk in his #NBAFinals debut. pic.twitter.com/M9Y60qycag- Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 1, 2020
With that statline, he became the fifth Laker in franchise history to finish with at least 30/5/5 in Game 1 of an NBA Finals series. His 34 points are the fourth-most scored in an Finals debut since the NBA-ABA merger, trailing only Michael Jordan (36 in 1991), Allen Iverson (48 in 2001), and Kevin Durant (36 in 2012).
"I expect it out of him… we've been preparing for this moment all season," LeBron James said postgame.
"I expect it out of him… we've been preparing for this moment all season."@KingJames on @AntDavis23's big Game 1 performance in the #NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/HDLKkpYPlk- NBA TV (@NBATV) October 1, 2020
The duo of James and Davis became the first Lakers duo to both score 25 points in the Finals since Kobe Bryant (33) and Shaquille O'Neal (29) did in Game 2 of the 2004 NBA Finals.
In terms of Lakers' history, Davis' points tally is tied for third-most with Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor.
Anthony Davis scored 34 points in the Lakers Game 1 win over the Heat.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 1, 2020
That's tied for the 3rd-most points scored in a NBA Finals debut in Lakers franchise history, behind only Shaquille O'Neal (43 in 2000) and George Mikan (42 in 1949).
Elgin Baylor also had 34 points in 1959. pic.twitter.com/TyB87IEDdo
His performance made him the first Lakers player with at least 30 points in the Finals since Kobe Bryant's 38 in Game 5 of the 2010 NBA Finals.
"First NBA Finals game, obviously, the nerves was there. A little nervous," Davis told ESPN's Rachel Nichols postgame. "But when the ball is tipped-up, we just go out there and play basketball. I tried to do that tonight."
"The bigger the moment, he's just raising his play," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said about Davis. This isn't the first Davis has stolen the show this postseason.
In the closeout game of the Lakers' first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers, AD dominated with 43 points on 14-of-18 shooting from the field. In his Conference Finals debut - Game 1 vs. the Nuggets - he erupted for 37 points. In Game 2 of that series, he knocked down a buzzer-beating game-winner to give the team a 2-0 series lead.
"Very proud of him [Davis]. It takes a lot to get to the level that he is on," Dwight Howard said postgame on Davis. "He's done an amazing job of providing confidence to the rest of the team but also just being that guy in the paint, scoring at will getting rebounds, blocking shots just doing everything as he should."
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