THE LONG WAIT IS OVER. A new NBA champion will be crowned in a couple of weeks.
Lakers vs. HEAT.
LeBron James vs. his former team.
Katya Elise Henry’s ex vs. Katya Elise Henry’s current boo.
And here at Baseline Times, we’ve got two Miami HEAT fans vs. one die-hard LeBron James fan giving you their 2020 NBA Finals Preview.
In the latest episode of the Shoot or Pass podcast, the crew discusses key players, match ups, and more factors in their (“completely un-biased”) 2020 NBA Finals Preview.
Chevy, Gabe, and Rhoby SHOOT if they agree or PASS if they disagree on the following statement:
The Los Angeles Lakers will sweep the Miami HEAT in the NBA Finals.
RHOBY – PASS
DON’T SLEEP ON THE HEAT! If we beat the top seed in the East in just five games, we can definitely contend against the top seed in the West AND BEAT THEM. We have a rookie that can carry us in games for crying out loud!
To be frank, I think the best part of this match up is that all of the pressure is on LeBron and the Lakers. The HEAT are playing with house money right now. Aside from the Houston Rockets, LeBron and Company have not faced a good defensive team in the NBA Playoffs. Therefore, while I think it is their biggest challenge yet, I believe the HEAT are a bigger threat than most think.
What has to go right for Miami?
Let’s start with the obvious. They HAVE to get their shots in. Especially those shots from beyond the arch. We have quite the arsenal of sharp shooters to help the team pull it off. Get this, Andre Iguodala was even making threes in the Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals!
However, I think an even bigger key for this team is winning the battle in the trenches for offensive rebounds. The Lakers rank second in the league in fast-break points per game (17.9). That number surged to 18.3 points per game in the Western Conference Finals series vs. the Nuggets. As a result, those boards are going to be crucial for the HEAT as it will limit any transition/fast-break opportunities against a team who is exceptionally good at capitalizing on them.
What cannot go wrong for the HEAT?
The third quarter, who fans have come to recognize as the “TURD” quarter. The latest receipt can be found in Game 5 of the ECF, where the team was outscored 41-25 coming out of the first half. They were lucky to rebound and win the series the next game, but it may be too big of a hole to dig out of in the NBA Finals. Miami has lost 18 times this season in games where they had a lead of 10 or more going into the half. That is the most in the league.
SERIES PREDICTION – HEAT in 7
GABE – LAUNCHES BALL INTO THE STANDS (PASS)
SWEEP?! Do people really think this is going to be a sweep? Look, it’s understandable that the Los Angeles Lakers have the two best players in the series, but who do they have beyond that?
The next best 7 players are:
- Bam Adebayo, MIA
- Jimmy Butler, MIA
- Goran Dragic, MIA
- Tyler Herro, MIA
- Duncan Robinson, MIA
- Jae Crowder, MIA
- Andre Iguodala, MIA
Yes, I am aware of the phenomenon that is Playoff Rondo, but refuse to put him above these guys based on his performance since his return. It’s all HEAT.
LeBron can only guard the best player at that moment. So, if Tyler Herro is the man with the hot hand at any given moment, he’s switching onto him. What if Bam or Jimmy get going? That’s the beauty of this team. Anyone can get hot and that makes it hard to defend, even for teams with Defensive Player of the Year candidates. I am especially looking for Bam to elevate his profile in this series going head-to-head with Anthony Davis.
To add, Miami also has good options to throw at LeBron on the defensive end. In fact, there’s enough of them to go around and tire out his supporting cast too! I feel like this is going to be a long, arduous series for the team from LA who will not have the luxury of a home-court advantage.
Miami also has another key advantage that can make all the difference in this series – COACHING.
Erik Spoelstra is the better coach in the NBA Finals series, no question. Frank Vogel doesn’t have to do much because LeBron James does the work for him. Coach Spo has been successful with and without the perennial superstars and just won the chess match against Brad Stevens in the ECF.
SERIES PREDICTION – HEAT in 7
CHEVY – PASS
As much as I believe the Lakers SHOULD complete the sweep, I’ll leave my brooms in the closet and say that the HEAT can win a game.
Two defensive stalwarts face off
Both the Lakers and HEAT have gone 12-3 in their Conference Playoff Rounds to get to the 2020 NBA Finals. These are the two best defensive teams in the playoffs per Teams Defensive rankings. The Lakers come out on top with a rating of 107.8 while the Miami HEAT’s rating is 108.9.
This could have anyone assuming both had a tight hold of their opponents as they defended effectively and efficient in wrapping up prior series’ by no more than five games. However, it’s glaringly obvious the Lakers can win the talent battle with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Let’s put some respect on their names.
LeBron’s key to avoiding the dreaded 3-7 NBA Finals record
Indeed, we have witnessed LeBron-led teams lose in the NBA Finals when he did not have a complementary superstar playing alongside. In these Finals, he will have a Defensive Player of the Year and top-ten NBA player to help divvy up the workload in Anthony Davis. The concern here will be facing a defensive scheme that hinders their role players making shots, because these two will still need their help.
I do agree that Erik Spoelstra is the better coach in this series. He is an absolute mastermind. I am curious to see what he has up his sleeve against his former player, LeBron James. Will Spo give in and say, “Have at it, LeBron. We’re just going to make you beat us and lock down the rest of the team” ?
With that being said, I think I am making it clear that I am going with the better individual talent. When it is all said and done, LeBron will be celebrating his fourth NBA Championship and NBA Finals MVP in a couple of weeks!