NBA Finals Preview and Predictions

NBA Finals Preview and Predictions

Johnny Mambrino

This is a matchup that nobody thought would end up being in the NBA Finals. The Lakers were certainly frontrunners to win the Western Conference along with their next-door neighbors, the Los Angeles Clippers. However, in the East, it was believed that the Bucks would represent the East in the Finals with Kawhi Leonard leaving the Raptors and moving West. But nonetheless, this finals matchup between the Heat and Lakers is sure to be an entertaining one. The Heat are almost a reincarnation of the Detroit Pistons team who won the NBA Finals in 2004.
It’s not just one overbearing presence that grabs all of the attention for the Heat, it’s a collective group of players who all impact the game in different ways. Although they have Jimmy Butler who is the best player on the Heat, what makes this team special is that it seems like a different player leads the team in scoring every night. Bam Adebayo is a great defensive presence in the paint, and they have more consistent shooters than any other team in the league, with Tyler Herro, Jae Crowder, and Duncan Robinson all shooting at least 39% from long range in the playoffs. They also have 8 players scoring double digits in the playoff.
The Heat never has to worry about Jimmy Butler having an off night because as it was shown in the East Finals, Tyler Herro went off for 37 to give them a 3-1 lead. Goran Dragic has also been a very consistent scorer in the playoffs, as he averaged around 16 points per game in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics, while also leading the Heat in scoring twice. They were even able to take down the Giannis Antetokounmpo led no.1 seed Milwaukee Bucks in 5 games. They go 11 men deep which is a recipe for success because without depth it’s hard to make a run in the playoffs…not in the lakers case, however.
While this will pose an interesting challenge for the former Heat great Lebron and the Lakers, it’s nothing he hasn’t seen before. In my opinion, the only thing that is stopping the Lakers from sweeping every team in their path is a lack of proven role players that the Lakers know can get them consistent production every night. Lebron James and Anthony Davis make up the most dominant duo in the league today, with each of them making the All-NBA first team, but after those two they don’t always have a legitimate third guy that they know they can count on. Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are the only other Lakers averaging at least 10 points per game in the playoffs and with just one sour production from Kyle Kuzma that can dip below 10 points per game very easily.
Alex Caruso has been a great hustle player, along with Rajon Rondo who was the playmaking guard the Lakers needed to step up to take the pressure off Lebron having to be the only viable facilitator. While it’s great that KCP has been efficient this series, he’s very hit or miss, in both the literal way in which he will either air-ball a three-pointer or swish it and his reliability when it comes to scoring is very off and on. If he’s not having a good game one night then Kyle Kuzma has to step up and if both of them have off nights that leaves Anthony Davis and Lebron to be left out to dry. But even with the lack of consistent scoring at times, the Lakers managed to beat both the Rockets and Nuggets in 5 games and while the Heat will pose more of a challenge with multiple players able to go off at the snap of a finger, it’s the substantial star power for the Lakers that I believe will lift them over the top in this series.
While I think it’ll be the Lakers lack of legitimate depth that will allow the Heat to take a couple of games, the Lakers have the best two-man combination in the league and when you have two of the best players on the court who also happen to both be top five players in the league, it’s very hard to pick against them, especially with LeBron in Finals. All the Lakers need is for a certain collection of a few different players, between KCP, Kuzma, Rondo, Danny Green, Dwight Howard, and Alex Caruso to do their part and provide somewhat consistent scoring, and for their two big men Dwight Howard and Javale McGee to contribute a solid defensive presence in the paint to combat the physicality and toughness of Bam Adebayo.

Prediction: Lakers defeat the Heat 4-2
Finals MVP: LeBron James