The entire NBA did a remarkable job of trusting science and respecting Covid-19 as a virus.
Only 22 teams took their talents to Orlando to play in the bubble; we are down to two.
A champion will be crowned in the 2020 NBA Finals. No asterisk is needed. Instead, this champion will be remembered forever.
The Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, showed tremendous mental toughness in central seclusion for three months while lives are lost because of Covid-19. Continually raising their voices with the teams who left the bubble on racial and social justice issues should be respected.
The Heat, the fifth seed out of the east, is on a business trip.
LeBron James has only one goal in mind, with the number one seed Lakers in the west.
It is the first time in NBA history two teams will play in the NBA Finals that were not part of the playoffs last season.
Both teams enter this NBA championship with identical 12-3 playoff records.
The Lakers are big favorites; I don’t mean big in weight gain, I mean colossal.
The two best NBA players remaining in the bubble are on the Lakers roster. LeBron and Anthony Davis.
The series may be decided in the paint. The Lakers are averaging less than 50 points per game in the paint that is ten more than the Heat and more than any team in the playoffs. Davis against Bam Adebayo will be the must-see matchup of former Kentucky Wildcat big men.
The Lakers can dominate this series playing big with Davis leading the charge. Davis-LeBron and insert a 6 foot 11 plus big man will be so hard for the Heat to handle offensively. Goran Dragic is playing his best basketball; penetration in the paint and shooting over those long defenders will be a challenging task, to say the least.
Davis is making his first Finals appearance. He enters game one averaging 28.8 points, the most ever for a LeBron teammate in the Finals. Davis opens spaces on the floor and creates a matchup problem for other Heat players who switch on him. The Lakers are the league’s strongest rim-attacking team. Almost 40% of their attempts came at the rim in the regular season, second-most, and converted a league-best 69% there. If the Heat defense collapses on Davis, expect open looks for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, and Alex Caruso.
Now the King.
LeBron has called this his revenge tour. In addition, he has taken on speaking on racial and social justice off the basketball court this season, taken the initiative to help groups who are victims of voter suppression and carry Laker nation on his back who dedicated this season to the sudden death of Kobe Bryant.
LeBron will arguably never win the title for the greatest of all time, but no other player his caliber in basketball has taken on the challenges like him face on. He needs to win this championship. I believe he needs five rings to cement his legacy. The King led the league in assist this season, being his 16th if you are keeping count. He is the 4th player in NBA history to play in 10 NBA Finals. But 3-7 does not look aesthetically pleasing.
No one expected the Heat to be here. They are back in the Finals for the first time since 2014.
LeBron is facing the team he surprisingly left behind. Big picture, it means nothing.
Pat Riley getting the satisfaction of actually beating LeBron in this Finals. Riley is not coaching or playing the game though Riley would enjoy it.
The Heat can win this series, with prayer.
Jimmy Butler is playing in his first Finals. He needs to give the Heat a “Dwyane Wade 2006 NBA Finals” performance. Wade averaged nearly 35 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.7 steals, 1.0 blocks in almost 44 minutes of play against the Dallas Mavericks to capture a Finals MVP, and his first ring. Butler’s 40-point game in game one against the Milwaukee Bucks showed a glimpse of what is possible; the Heat needs more of that in this series.
Adebayo needs to find ways to be involved in the offense playing the point-center role. He and Kendrick Nunn contracted COVID-19 during the postponement of play. Nunn will see minutes in this series; I will be surprised if Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra does not rotate him in for Dragic. Spo has to go deep down the bench to prolong the series to seven games.
Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson are sharpshooters from 3-point land. The Lakers will not leave them open easily, so coming off picks will be essential to catch and shoot. Herro is more valuable and shown confidence when creating his shot off the dribble and passing the ball.
The Heat will have to live with playing the zone defense. It will not stop Davis and LeBron; instead, slow them down in their half-court offense. Andre Iguodala is not younger, but his experience will be put to the test when guarding LeBron.
Hear me and hear me well. This has been one of the most unpredictable NBA playoffs. Unfortunately, Covid-19 is the primary reason. When it comes to the NBA bubble, the two best teams remaining handle it best.
The year is 2020. I have a double prediction—Lakers in 6 or Heat in 7.