NBA Finals 2020

               With the scare of the Covid-19 virus, the 2020 NBA Finals still took place from September 30-October 11. It was a very unlikely series, seeing the Los Angeles Lakers face off against the Miami Heat. With the formation of the NBA’s most recent “superteam,” the Los Angeles Lakers failed to surprise anyone with their appearance. On the other hand, the Miami Heat out-performed their presumed second round exit. After defeating the Indiana Pacers in a shocking 4-0 series, the Miami Heat were expected to lose to the highly-favored Milwaukee Bucks. To the viewers’ astonishment, the Miami Heat did away with the Eastern Conference powerhouse in five games, meaning they won the series four games to one. Although it took them only one game longer, Miami managed to once again send home the series favorite Boston Celtics, thus causing the Heat to not lose much momentum. The Lakers dispatched all of their opponents in exactly five games each, which is also rather impressive but garners less attention because most fans expected them to.  Nonetheless, the stage was set for these two extraordinary teams to do battle starting on the 30th of September. 

             In Game 1, we saw a 116-98 victory for the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers superstars Anthony Davis and Lebron James came out firing on all cylinders. The duo combined for 59 total points and 22 total rebounds. Although assists were lower than we usually see from Lebron James, Davis picked up his averages, racking up 5 assists of his own. Seeing as how the two stars alone racked up more points than the entire Miami starting lineup, it’s not hard to see how the Lakers won the first game. While the Miami heat definitely kept up on the defensive side of the ball, they still were unable to out-perform the Lakers. The Lakers out-blocked, out-stole, and out-rebounded the ball by a margin of at least 3 in each category when compared to the Heat. Even though Miami did not have that bad of a game, it simply was not enough to take the first game of the series. Game 2 was more of the same story as Los Angeles won it as well. This game was slightly higher scoring, with the final score being 124-114. The only real difference between Game 1 and Game 2 was that Miami started to develop a little bit better shooting consistency.

             Game 3 was the first time that Miami was able to break the ice. They took the game from the Lakers in a 115-104 victory that many people thought would never happen. A Miami victory was unexpected seeing as how their rising star center, Bam Adebayo, was out with an injury. His absence was made up for by the interior dominance shown by Jimmy Butler who summed a total of two blocks, and eleven rebounds, while also contributing 14 interior buckets and 13 assists. While Miami was able to step up their game, it certainly didn’t help that the Lakers had 20 turnovers, and Anthony Davis definitely underperformed. Davis only had 5 rebounds, 15 points, and not a single block for the entire night. Game 4, however, the Lakers rectified their mistakes and turned the tides further in their favor, putting the series to a 3-1 lead for Los Angeles. Game 4 showed that Anthony Davis was simply not feeling it two nights prior, as he almost doubled his rebound total, got four blocks in comparison to his zero the game before, and put up 22 points which was an improvement from Game 3. While Davis’ revitalization definitely helped, Jimmy Butler certainly did not perform as well as the game before in the form of less points, assists, and rebounds. This left a lot for Miami fans to hope for, seeing as how their team was on the brink of elimination going into Game 5. 

             The most incredible contest of the series came in the form of Miami’s Game 5 win; this matchup was an absolute nail-biter from start to finish. On the topic of start to finish, that is the way to describe Jimmy Butler’s historic performance. Out of the total 48 minutes in the game, Butler played 47 of them and only rested for 52 seconds. In this time, Butler managed to dominate on both sides of the ball. He amassed an astonishing 35 points, 11 assists, and only missed 8 shots out of his 19. On the defensive side, he racked up a jaw-dropping 12 rebounds, five steals, and a single block. Although Butler had an amazing game, he didn’t win it alone. The entire Miami starting lineup went absolutely berserk; all of them put up double digit point totals. Even though the Lakers didn’t finish the game as victors they still delivered an absolute spectacle. Lebron James put up 40 points of his own, and complemented it with 10 assists and 13 rebounds. With Davis contributing his usual numbers, and the Lakers having fewer turnovers than their previous loss, they kept the fourth quarter close the entire time, but the Heat still snuck out a three point win. For this game it was much less a Lakers loss than it was a Miami win.

              All of the momentum that the Heat had closing out the fifth game was unable to translate to the last game of the series. The Lakers ended the series in Game 6 by winning 106-93. Unlike some of the other games in this series, Game 6 was a total takeover by Los Angeles. They held Jimmy Butler to only 12 points, while also coming together for a cohesive team win. While the Heat just seemed all out of balance with many of their players, the Lakers bench outscored their previous games which was enough to sink the unstable Heat. The Lakers were back on top of the basketball world for the first time since the Kobe Bryant-led team took the title in 2010. This title ended the season and gave Los Angeles their record-tying seventeenth NBA championship. 

             Next season is coming fast and this series has good news in store for both teams. Clearly the Lakers have very little to worry about now that they know for sure they are a top tier team in this league. If they can keep their current stars and maybe add some that will work cohesively with what they have now, they most likely will be back in the postseason again. On the other hand, the Heat showed that they have real, young talent and that Jimmy Butler is a very capable leader. They have what it takes to get back to the Finals again, however they will need to add more depth if they want to get over that last hurdle that they came so close to this year.