With 6’10” Anthony Davis and 6’9″ LeBron James on the court it’s hard to say the Lakers are going small, but they are going away from a traditional center and for more spacing.
The Lakers will start Alex Caruso in Game 6 and relegate Dwight Howard to the bench, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic and now confirmed by the team.
It is unlikely Howard will see much, if any, time on the court, expect Markieff Morris to be the other “big” on the court for the Lakers playing the five.
The Lakers standard starting five these Finals — LeBron, Davis, Howard, Danny Green, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — has basically played the Heat to a standstill (a -0.9 net rating, according to NBA.com stats). The offense has been efficient, but that group has not played good defense against the Heat’s best lineups.
This new starting lineup played just 12 minutes together in the playoffs, but their defense was spectacular in that very small sample size.
Alex Caruso is a pesky perimeter defender who works hard at that end of the court, and on offense he provides more shooting and floor spacing. The Lakers thrive on getting points in the paint on offense, but in the past few games the Heat have done a good job reducing that and making those shots far more difficult — and that is with Bam Adebayo playing at 75% of himself due to his shoulder and neck injuries. Caruso will draw defenders out because he has to be accounted for at the three-point line.
Already a fan favorite, if the Lakers win the title in Game 6 with this move, Caruso will become a Lakers’ legend.