After nearly one year since the season started, the NBA Finals are set. In the west, the Los Angeles Lakers are looking to win their first title since 2010. Meanwhile, in the east, the Miami Heat are looking for their first since 2013. The two teams resemble the classic David vs Goliath story. Many, including myself, picked the Lakers to win the championship before the bubble resumed. And, ever since backup point guard Rajon Rondo returned, the Lakers have looked the part of the league’s best team. But the Heat have been the underdog story of 2020 thus far. They’re an incredibly unselfish team that has a plethora of sharpshooters Here’s what to watch for in the NBA Finals this year.
What To Watch For In The 2020 NBA Finals
All-Star Tandems Lead The Way
When talking about what to watch for, it has to start with the four all-stars. Those would be Anthony Davis and LeBron James for the Lakers, and Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo for the Heat. James is coming off a masterful 38 point triple-double while Davis is coming off a 27 point game himself. In the playoffs, James’s efficiency has risen to 54.7 percent from the floor. His field goal attempts have also increased through each playoff series as his scoring burden has increased. Without a doubt, James will be more locked in than ever as he goes for his fourth ring.
On the other side, his co-star Davis will be playing in his first-ever Finals. When the teams played twice in the regular season, Davis averaged 29.5 points and nine rebounds on 59.5 percent shooting. His rim protection down low is going to be very important in disrupting the dribble-drive penetration of the Heat. Finally, both James and Davis are capable of switching and guarding multiple positions if needed. If there was any team in the west built to defend the Heat, it’s the Lakers.
But the Heat All-Stars are dangerous in their own right. And the Heat will need them to elevate their game to the next level to beat the Lakers. Adebayo has taken a leap in the postseason and was the key to winning the series versus the Boston Celtics. In game seven, he had the best game of his career with 32 points, 14 boards, and went 11 of 15 from the floor, and ten of 11 from the free-throw line. Offensively, the Heat are going to call Adebayo’s number often, and his free throw shooting will be clutch.
His co-star Butler is an exceptional free throw shooter in his own right and will need to provide 20 points a night for the Heat to win the series. Butler’s calling card is his stellar defense, but he’s evolved into a great all-around leader and player. His willingness to feed the ball to shooters Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro can’t be underappreciated enough. Butler shot horrendously from three against the Celtics though, and don’t think the Lakers don’t know about it. Free throw shooting will be imperative in this series as the Heat has taken 27.6 free throws a game in the postseason.
Role Players Could Decide Series
Even though the stars are what to watch the most, both teams have role players that will decide the series. Rondo was mentioned earlier as being a key part of the Lakers’ success. His passing ability on the second unit has him averaging 7.2 assists per game. Not to mention, his three-point percentage is at 42 in the playoffs, a ginormous spike from his career average of 33. Whether that’s sustainable or not is unknown, but it’s a promising sight for the Lakers nonetheless.
In addition, Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, and the wings will have to be reliable scorers against a potential Heat zone. We saw the Heat use zone a good amount against the Celtics, and if James or Rondo find an open shooter, they must capitalize. The Heat zone was also very effective against the Milwaukee Bucks for what it’s worth. Another thing to watch will be the minutes of Dwight Howard and how much Frank Vogel will or won’t use him depending on the matchup.
Although the Lakers will rely on their role players, it won’t be to the extent the Heat will. In a way, the Heat’s role players are what got them here. In the bubble regular-season games, Jae Crowder shot 58 percent from three. And against the Bucks, Crowder’s 43 percent shooting was clutch. Admittedly he had a rough series against the Celtics but the Heat will still count on him to find his shot again. Another role player who’s a blossoming star is the rookie sensation, Tyler Herro. Herro picked up the slack big time against the Celtics and has shown no fear since he put on a Heat jersey for the first time.
He and Goran Dragic are two ballers who excel most at getting buckets. Dragic has upped his scoring average to 21 points in the playoffs. His IQ and shot creation as the third option behind Butler and Adebayo will be counted on if the Heat is to win. Last but not least, Robinson was the fourth-most accurate shooter from three in the NBA regular season on 8.3 attempts. It should be noted that the Lakers held Robinson to six points a game in the regular season on a very inefficient 26.7 percent.
Experience Versus Youth
To conclude, when looking for what to watch for, look no further than the experience versus youth matchup. The Lakers are a veteran filled team with tons of NBA Finals experience to go around. James is entering his tenth finals, Rondo his third, Green his fourth, Howard his second, and J.R. Smith his fifth. On the Heat’s side, Erik Spoelstra and Udonis Haslem are no strangers to the Finals, and Andre Iguodala is a former Finals MVP. But the Lakers are much more fitted for the high pressure the Finals brings. The Heat’s core is very young in general. Herro is 20, Adebayo is 23, and Robinson is 26. But if there’s any organization that can coach up their players to be ready for the moment, it’s the Heat.
This Finals Will Be Must-See TV
The legacy of the King is going to be forever changed based on the outcome of this series. If James wins and earns his fourth ring, his legacy gets another cap in its feather. The praises will come flooding in. But if the Heat pulls off the upset, the media won’t live it down, and his Finals record will be a talking point once again. That kind of drama to go along with the bold personality of Butler will make for must-see TV.
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