The Magical NBA Finals are Underway!

The NBA Finals have finally arrived.

LeBron+and+the+Lakers+look+to+capture+the+franchise%E2%80%99s+first+championship+ring+since+2010+against+Jimmy+Butler+and+the+Miami+Heat.

Photo courtesy of S.I.

LeBron and the Lakers look to capture the franchise’s first championship ring since 2010 against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat.

The 2020 NBA Finals have officially arrived, and millions of basketball fans around the country and the world are ecstatic! Although it is much later in the year than usual due to the season’s suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic, the league was still able to make it happen. 

 

All games will continue to take place in the so-called “Orlando/Disney Bubble”, a self-contained and closed off area that has been specifically designated for the NBA teams to play their games during this pandemic. The players have all been living in this “bubble” since the resumption of the season in mid-July, located right outside of Disney World in Central Florida.

 

This year’s matchup is a tale of South Beach vs. Hollywood, South Florida vs. SoCal: The underdog Miami Heat take on the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers.

 

The Heat were not the first team on nearly anyone’s mind as the squad who was predicted to come out on top of the Eastern Conference and make the Finals this season. However, this Miami squad surpassed all expectations and have dominated so far in these playoffs, with a 12-3 record through the first three rounds. Led by Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, and Bam Adebayo, this year’s Heat team has been impressive to say the least.

 

In the opening round of the Playoffs, the Heat demolished the Indiana Pacers and blew them out of the water right from the jump, sweeping Indy four games to zero in the best-of-seven series. After this phenomenal first series performance, Miami went on to defeat the Giannis-Antetokounmpo-led Milwaukee Bucks, and then finally eliminate the Boston Celtics in a hard fought, scrappy six-game-long battle.

The Los Angeles Lakers, unlike the Heat, were predicted by most odds and within the media to make it very far in this season’s Playoffs, being one of the favorites. They did not fail to do so, making it to these Finals relatively smoothly with not many bumps in the road. To get here, LA had to get past the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, and the Denver Nuggets.

 

With the 16-time NBA All-Star forward LeBron James leading the way, the Lakers did not have much of a problem getting through the initial three rounds and advancing to these Finals. Along with many exceptional role players such as PG Rajon Rondo, forward Kyle Kuzma, and veteran big man Dwight Howard, the Lakers have plenty of great players to complement and surround their two Superstars.

 

Game 1 was expected to be a great contest, so let’s recap what happened..

NBA Finals Game 1– September 30, 2020:

 

The Miami Heat came out firing on all cylinders, hitting a very high percentage of their early-game shots. All-Star Jimmy Butler scored 7 early points to begin the game in the opening few minutes, and after he got going, some of his teammates followed his lead. Just six and a half minutes into the 1st quarter, the Heat took a very early 23-10 lead and looked to be at their best. However, after Lakers’ coach Frank Vogel called a timeout to refocus his team, the Lakers returned to the court and hit the ground running. Superstar PF Anthony Davis got into a rhythm and nailed several jumpshots to quickly get the Lakers right back in the ballgame. LA ended the 1st quarter on a monster run, and by the end of the first 12 minutes, Miami’s lead had vanished entirely. Nevertheless, the Heat found themselves down just 3 heading into the 2nd quarter.

 

In the 2nd quarter, the Lakers got very hot from both downtown and under the rim. Made three-pointers from Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma, and Markieff Morris began to accumulate to suddenly put the Lakers up double digits. Good defense by the Lakers and poor shooting by the Heat began to occur throughout the entirety of the quarter, and when the halftime buzzer sounded, Miami trailed by a pretty-wide 17 point margin. LA led 65-48.

 

The 3rd quarter began, and things only began to get worse for the Heat. LeBron James and Anthony Davis both continued their scoring barrage, and Miami could not seem to find a way to score the ball. By the midway point of the quarter, the Heat had taken a terrible downfall, and trailed by THIRTY-TWO points. Miami’s 3 best players, Butler, Adebayo, and Dragic, were all experiencing injuries, but continued to play as best they could. However, the injuries didn’t matter at that point in time relating to the issue of their tremendous deficit on the scoreboard. The rough quarter for the Heat finally came to an end, and they trailed 93-67.

 

By the 4th quarter, it seemed everyone already knew what the result of this game was going to be: A Laker win. The only notable thing that happened in these final 12 minutes was that rookie guard Kendrick Nunn came off the bench for Miami and scored a bunch of points with some beautiful dunks and layups. Fellow rookie Tyler Herro also chipped in with the Heat’s late game scoring efforts, and playoff veteran Andre Iguodala scored a few baskets. Technically, the Heat did win the 4th quarter by scoring more than the Lakers, but it didn’t matter at this point, as the game was already far out of reach for a Miami comeback.

 

Final Score: Lakers 116, Heat 98.

 

LeBron James posted yet another masterpiece statistical performance, just 1 assist shy of a triple-double. (25 PTS, 13 REB, 9 AST). However, Anthony Davis was the leading scorer of the game with his 34 points, to go along with 9 rebounds and 3 blocks. After the 1st quarter, the Lakers dominated this game on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court and seemed to be in full control by the 3rd quarter. This game was a somewhat usual and fantastic performance from the newly-crowned Western Conference Champs.

 

For the Heat, Jimmy Butler tallied 23 points, 5 assists, and 2 steals on 8 for 13 shooting from the field. As a team, however, the Heat shot below 43% for the game and just 31.4% from three-point range. In his time out on the floor, Bam Adebayo, a crucial player for the Heat’s success, struggled mightily shooting and also did not record a single assist, which is a very rare occurrence. Lastly, another significant problem for Miami in the box score is the glaring discrepancy in total team rebounds. The Heat were out-rebounded 54 to 36- completely destroyed on the boards- which could truly be an issue to be aware of going forth.

So, the Lakers have taken a 1 to 0 series lead, and certainly looked like the better team in Game 1. However, things can change, adjustments will be made, and it is nowhere near the time yet to count the Miami Heat out of this series.

Game 2 will tip off on Friday, October 2nd, at 9:00PM Eastern Time.