After over two months in the Orlando bubble, this year’s NBA Finals matchup is finally set. Starting on September 30, the Los Angeles Lakers will square off against the Miami Heat in a battle for the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. Both teams have played incredible basketball so far to even get to this point and look to continue that high-level of play on the league’s biggest stage. With this in mind, here is a preview and predictions for the 2020 NBA Finals series between the Lakers and the Heat.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are the top seed in the Western Conference and have been absolutely dominant throughout their playoff run. They beat the Blazers, the Rockets and the Nuggets in five games each on their way to the NBA Finals. L.A. is primarily led by the dynamic superstar tandem of LeBron James (26.7 PPG) and Anthony Davis (28.8 PPG). The 35-year-old James has shown that he’s still one of the best players in the world in his 18th season, as he’s been extremely clutch and consistent throughout the playoffs for the Lakers. AD has been a huge part of the Lakers’ success as well, leading the team in scoring and hitting the buzzer-beater shot to win against the Nuggets in game two of the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers are very strong on offense, recording an efficient 115.6 offensive rating. L.A. has also been very effective on the defensive side of the ball under coach Frank Vogel’s suffocating defensive scheme, posting an impressive 107.8 defensive rating. Overall, the Lakers are extremely efficient on both sides of the ball and full of experienced high-level talent, making them very difficult for any team to beat.
The Heat are the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference but they certainly have not played like it. Miami swept the Pacers and then went on to beat the top-seeded Bucks and twice-reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokuonmpo in just five games. The Heat then defeated the three seed Celtics in six games in the Western Conference Finals in order to clinch their spot in the NBA Finals. Miami has a very talented and deep lineup led by stars Jimmy Butler (20.9 PPG), Bam Adebayo (18.5 PPG and 11.4 RPG), Goran Dragic (20.9 PPG) and breakout rookie Tyler Herro (16.5 PPG). The Heat also have one of the best coaches in all of basketball in Erik Spoelstra, whose offensive and defensive schemes are integral to the team’s success. In terms of advanced metrics, Miami is extremely efficient on both sides of the ball. The Heat recorded offensive and defensive ratings of 113.4 and 108.9 each throughout the playoffs, both barely ranking below the Lakers. Miami’s success in this NBA Finals series hinges on if they are able to outperform the Lakers in each of those categories, which is much easier said than done.
The Lakers and Heat are both very strong and balanced teams but L.A.’s veteran experience and transcendent superstar talent should ultimately win out in this series. LeBron will get a fourth NBA title and NBA Finals MVP Award to add to his hardware collection this year.
Prediction: Lakers in 6