Miami likely will be without guard Goran Dragic for the fifth time in these NBA Finals when the Heat meets the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 on Sunday (7:30 p.m., ABC).
The Heat listed Dragic as doubtful for the game.
Dragic had been having issues with the plantar fascia in his left foot for a few weeks and tore it during the first half of Game 1 of the Finals.
Jimmy Butler said Dragic has continued efforts to try to return, though the Heat and Dragic believe the injury has been too painful and limiting for him to be effective.
“What he’s trying to do, you tip your hat to a guy like that,” Jae Crowder said. “Obviously, it’s a terrible time going down with an injury. It’s eating him alive that he’s put in all this work and has to face this injury that he’s facing.”
Dragic, 34, was leading the Heat in scoring in the playoffs heading into the Finals.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel voiced displeasure about two foul calls that sent Butler to the line late in Miami’s Game 5 win. Butler made all four free throws on those sequences.
But in its usual day-after-game assessment of foul calls made in the final two minutes, the NBA ruled that both plays were correctly called fouls against the Lakers.
“I felt two bad calls at the end put Butler to the line, and that’s unfortunate in a game of this magnitude,” Vogel said. “Anthony Davis had perfect verticality; [that] should be a play on. And the time before that, Markieff Morris has his hands on the ball; that should be a play on.
“They were given four free throws and made it an uphill battle for us. Very disappointed in that aspect of the game, but we’re going to bounce back strong.”
LeBron James cited “a couple questionable calls that swayed their way and put Jimmy to the free-throw line. Obviously, we can’t do that. He’s been damn near perfect at the free-throw line in the series.”
Butler has shot 92 percent from the line in the Finals (46 for 50).
“I thought AD made a heck of a play at the rim,” James said of the foul called against Davis on Butler.
The NBA said the Heat did benefit in one regard: An illegal defense should have been called on Andre Iguodala with 28 seconds left, which would have given the Lakers a free throw when they were down one.
▪ Danny Green missed an open three-pointer on a pass from James with seven seconds left, and the Lakers were 0-for-6 from the field off a James pass in the clutch, including 0-of-4 on open looks on those passes, per ESPN. The NBA defines clutch as the final five minutes of a game with a margin of five points or fewer.
“I’ve always played the game the same since I was a kid and I’ve had success doing it; I won’t let a play here or a play there change how I play the game,” James said.
Of the pass to Green, James said: “I was able to draw two defenders below the free-throw line and find one of our shooters at the top of the key for a wide open three to win a championship. I trusted him, we trusted him, and it just didn’t go. You live with that. I wish I could make a better pass…. And then we got the offensive rebound and we turned the ball over.”
Some – including ESPN’s Jay Williams – criticized James for not taking that shot, considering not only his greatness but because he was having another spectacular game (40 points on 15-of-21 shooting, 13 rebounds, seven assists and three steals). But Vogel said James “made the right play. Danny is one of our best shooters; he had a great look.”
▪ The Lakers’ Davis — who left Game 5 briefly after aggravating a sore right heel injury when Iguodala stepped on his foot — said he “will be fine” for Game 6, even though he limped at times during Game 5. The Lakers listed him as probable for Game 6.
Vogel said Davis “was struggling to move a little bit but toughed it out.”
▪ James said of the Heat: “One thing about this team that we are playing, they make you pay for every mistake. It’s the same as when I was playing against Golden State all those years; you make a mistake, they make you pay.”
James on Sunday will play in his 260th playoff game, breaking a tie with Derek Fisher for most postseason games by any player in NBA history.
▪ Duncan Robinson said he believes the Heat’s exceptional conditioning has helped throughout these playoffs, particularly Friday, when Erik Spoelstra played only seven players.
“We wear that with pride,” Robinson said of the team’s high fitness level. “We think it’s an advantage in every series we play in. We’ve talked about emptying the tanks, whatever it takes.”
▪ The Heat outscored the Lakers 15-9 in the clutch of Game 5 and has now outscored opponents by 47 points in 50 clutch minutes during these playoffs, shooting 52 percent during those 50 minutes.
▪ Butler is the second player – since steals were first tracked in 1973-74 – to produce a 30-point triple double with at least five steals in a playoff game. Gary Payton did that in the first round of the 2000 playoffs.
▪ Tyler Herro’s 47 three-pointers are the most made by a rookie in a single playoffs, topping Matt Maloney’s 43. Michael Porter Jr.’s 34 and Manu Ginobili’s 28.
What’s more, Herro leads all NBA players with 223 fourth-quarter minutes during these playoffs.