Series Preview: Heat vs. Lakers (NBA Finals)

Audio/Story posted September 29, 2020 in

Host Dale Ostrander and analysts Sam Kirk and Matt McLaughlin recap the conference finals and look ahead at the NBA Finals matchup between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The NBA Finals are finally here. Capping off what has already been a wild season is this matchup, which is sure to treat fans. The Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James will face James’ former team, the Miami Heat, with which he received his first two NBA championships.

Last year featured the first NBA Finals in eight years without James playing on either team. James has now led the Lakers through an impressive postseason, as they have lost only three games during their path to the finals. People were questioning their chances in the playoffs because of their poor performance during the eight-game return-to-play in the bubble, but it’s clear that the Lakers have regained their focus, and James is determined to earn his fourth ring.

The Miami Heat continue to impress after sweeping the Pacers, winning in five games against the Bucks and overcoming the Celtics in the conference final. Miami has been so hard to stop with their leading scorer changing every game. Jimmy Butler has been the ringleader, bringing the energy that fuels this team, but Miami’s balanced attack and team defense have also contributed to the Heat’s efforts during this immaculate postseason run.

Let’s take a look at how each team can leave 2020 with the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

How can the Lakers win?

Offensively, the Lakers need to continue to do what they’ve been doing this entire offseason by running the offense through James. Anthony Davis has also been a key for this offense, averaging 28.8 points per game.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Lakers are going to have a hard time focusing on a certain player. The Lakers were able to focus on locking up players such as Jamal Murray, James Harden and Damian Lillard in the earlier rounds of the playoffs, but Miami doesn’t have a player of that nature. They’ll have to identify when a player is having “a night” and contain him before he afflicts more damage.

How can the Heat win?

Every team has been struggling with this Lakers roster. Do you put your best defender on James or Davis? It seems like Butler will end up guarding LeBron and Bam Adebayo will have to guard Davis, but who is going to guard Dwight Howard or JaVale McGee?

The Lakers’ large roster is the main factor that has been allowing them to dominate the rebounds, finishing No. 1 offensively. The Heat will have to find a way to box out and stop the Lakers from getting second-chance points.

So who wins it?

In the end, this is the Lakers’ series to lose. LeBron James is just unstoppable. The Heat will make this series interesting like they have in each round so far, but the Lakers are going to cause matchup issues the entire series. It is a tough feat to stop both Davis and James with the way they have been playing. Expect the Heat to steal a game early, but James is on a mission to prove why he is the best player to ever play the game. He won’t miss this opportunity.

Prediction: Lakers win the series 4-2

 

Austin Groft is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email atg5271@psu.edu.