The NBA Finals are set and the Los Angeles Lakers will take on the Miami Heat for the first time in NBA history.
Each Team’s Path
The Lakers were the first to clinch their trip to the Finals. After knocking out the Portland Trailblazers and Houston Rockets in five games a piece, the Lakers continued their trend of gentleman’s sweeps and eliminated the Denver Nuggets in game 5 of the Western Conference finals. The Lakers have been led by their superstar tandem in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who have combined to average 55.5 points, 19.6 rebounds and 12.5 assists per game in the playoffs. Los Angeles has also gotten a lot of help from Rajon Rondo, also known as “Playoff Rondo“, running the offense when James is out and the entire team committing to the defensive end of the floor. With Davis looking to start his Finals legacy with his first ring and James looking to extend his own legacy with his fourth championship, the Lakers stars will to close out their dominant season.
The Heat defeated the Boston Celtics in game six of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday, ending a tough series and becoming the first No. 5 seed in NBA history to make the Finals. Miami impressed in the first round when they swept the Indiana Pacers but put the NBA on notice when they eliminated the MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in five games the next round. The Heat have won most of their games by committee, relying on different guys to step up every night. Goran Dragic has been their leading scorer in the playoffs, Tyler Herro has proven to be a big time contributor both on and off ball and Bam Adebayo has anchored their defense. The heart of the team however has been Jimmy Butler. Butler is the Miami Heat culture personified and has been their closer all season long.
Although both teams have a 12-3 record in the playoffs, the Lakers will come into the Finals as the favorites, though Miami has seemed to thrive in the underdog position in their previous two series. Los Angeles won the two regular season games against the Heat but seeing how much time has gone by and the changes each team has had to make it’s likely those games won’t be indicative of what is seen in the Finals.
Both the Heat and Lakers have arguably been the best defensive teams in their respective conferences. Miami’s duo of Butler and Adebayo pose an interesting matchup for the Lakers’ stars in James and Davis. The Finals will likely be determined by which pair of stars win their matchup.
Despite never meeting in the Finals, the teams do have some history between them. LeBron James will be matching up against his former team and coach in the Heat and Erik Spoelstra, who he won his first two championships with in 2012 and 2013. Heat President Pat Riley won a championship with the Lakers in 1972 as a player and five more as head coach for the Showtime Lakers from 1981 to 1990.
After almost full calendar year since the regular season started, a league shutdown that lasted nearly five months and constant fear of a lost season, an NBA Champion will be crowned.
Game one of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat tips off Wednesday, September 30th 9:00 p.m. EST.
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