2020 NBA Finals Preview
The heavily favored Los Angeles Lakers versus the relatively surprising Miami Heat
By brandon walker | September 30, 2020
Finally, after almost a year after 2019-2020 began, we are at the NBA Finals. We have a matchup between the heavily favored Los Angeles Lakers and the relatively surprising Miami Heat. On the one hand, the Lakers have perhaps the best one-two punch since Shaquille O’Neal and the late Kobe Bryant. On the other hand, the Miami Heat has an established star with an unrivaled competitive spirit surrounded by a plethora of young stars that fit the culture of team toughness and accountability. The “Heat Culture” has been an NBA staple for a quarter-century. Although the teams looked like they took different paths to get to this point, both teams are each 12-3 in the playoffs. This matchup is the first finals matchup in NBA history in which neither team made the playoffs the previous season.
The Los Angeles Lakers are back in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010 when the defeated the Boston Celtics. The Lakers turned their fortunes around by acquiring forward Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans. Davis is the latest along the lines of big men that were acquired by the Lakers. Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and O’Neal all previously lead the franchise to championships and immortalized themselves as franchise legends. Other players contributing to the Lakers’ resurgence are veterans Rajon Rondo, Javale McGee, Danny Green, and Dwight Howard players who know their roles and develop and maintain the chemistry they needed to get to this point. Head Coach Frank Vogel, who’s hiring in the offseason got a lot of criticism from the NBA media, is perhaps the most crucial hire that they made over the last offseason. Vogel has pressed all of the right buttons with his coaching decisions and earning the trust of LeBron James, speaking of James. What more can we say about him. James is making his 10th NBA Finals appearance. He has a chance to further his case as the greatest player of all time and, at the same time, establish himself as a Laker legend for winning a championship and for spearheading the franchise through the franchise grieving process in the wake of the tragic death of Kobe Bryant.
As for the Heat, their turnaround was spearheaded by the major acquisition of guard Jimmy Butler. Butler has fit this team culture like a glove. At times, Butler looked like the best player in the bubble, especially in the second round against the Milwaukee Bucks. Butler outplayed Giannis Antetokounmpo, the raining two-time league Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year. Miami has two future superstars in Tyler Herro and Ban Adebayo, both players have been making clutch plays on both sides of the ball and has grown up quickly under the development of coach Erik Spoelstra. Spoelstra is perhaps the most underappreciated coach in recent NBA history because he had the star power early in the last decade with James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh he had the privilege to coach. However, he was able to reshape and rebuild the roster with legendary team president Pat Riley without the arduous tanking process. This Heat team is similar to the 2004 Detroit Pistons or the 2011 Dallas Mavericks no true superstar but many good players and great coaching.
If the Heat can scheme a way to take away either James or Davis and shoot the ball from three at their pace, they will have a chance. Pundits think that this will be a lopsided series, but I don’t buy it. I believe the Heats depth and the veteran savvy of players like Andre Igoudala, Goran Dragic, and Jae Crowder will make a difference in a couple of games this series. However, I think the Lakers have the two best players in the series, and the best players win championships.
Lakers in 6
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