Lakers vs Heat: Do Miami have what it takes to fend off a formidable Los Angeles threat in the NBA finals?
To answer the question in one word. Yes. Miami can turn on the heat and walk away clinching the 2020 NBA Finals. Pardon the cliché, but they have outdone some of the best teams this season, with the Boston Celtics being the most recent. They drubbed the Indiana Pacers 4-0 first and followed it up with a 4-1 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks. Had it not been for Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker going Super Saiyan to find that switch in Game 5 and enforce another game, all that Heat needed were five games to wrap things up.
The Lakers have fared quite similarly as they closed out the Portland Trail Blazers, the Houston Rockets, and the Denver Nuggets in five games as well winning each of the series 4-1. However, Miami will be looking at two options — Draw first blood or take it as deep as Game 7 should they lose a couple and pip the Purple and Gold in a couple. However, given their approach, they might take the first chance they get to vault over LeBron James and Co.
Quite honestly, Heat made difficult games look ridiculously easy. They may have had the chance to breathe when they swept the Pacers, but their real challenge came in when they squared-off against the Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Their versatile defense was on full display as they managed to keep a consistent scorer like Gianni's quiet while they offense weaved through the Bucks walls to send them packing. In Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, there are two heavyweights Heat can bank on.
The two men add meat to the Heat defense and can counter the likes of Lakers' shooters, but their offense is equally balanced. Butler can still score and Adebayo has the knack of finding the basket with the utmost ease. Add Duncan Robinson and young rookie, Tyler Herro to the mix along with Andre Iguodala, Heat is more than capable of just trying to hang in there. Robinson's three's are sharp and that's where Miami will look to maximize their lead against the Lakers.
That's as far as the gameplay is concerned. Off-court, it's no surprise there's bad blood and more so than the Heat, there's enough pressure on LeBron James. The meteoric rise to fame started with the Heat, but that was close to a decade and now he will go up against the very team that saw him grow. And it isn't just LeBron who's gearing up for the ugly challenge. There's Pat Riley, the Heat President with a Lakers connection (His coaching career started with LA).
Essentially, it boils down to one former taking home the glory. Riley and LeBron haven't really had a great relationship after the latter left the Heat. There's no doubt the added pressure will be the challenge Miami poses to LeBron and his Lakers. Should it get to him, the onus lies on Anthony Davis to overperform and Heat will be hoping that may lead the Lakers to make some mistakes on-court they can exploit. And if this all pans out this way, the Lakers will have a long tournament ahead.
The Heat vs Lakers Game 1 will be aired live on ABC. The two teams clash on Wednesday, September 30, at 9 pm ET.