After one of the most unusual seasons in living memory, we are down to the final two as the Los Angeles Lakers face the Miami Heat for the right to be called NBA champions.
The Lakers, Western Conference winners, will deservedly go into the best-of-seven series as the strong
5/18 favourites to lift the trophy.
Not only did they accumulate the best regular season record (52-19), but they also have the big game players to make the difference in the Finals – look no further than LeBron James.
LeBron Out to Cement NBA Legacy
James is in his 17th year in the NBA and continues to dominate, averaging 25.3 points, 10.2 assists and 7.8 in total rebounds per game.
The 35-year-old already has three NBA titles to his name and LeBron will know that if he is to have any chance of equalling Michael Jordan’s six titles, then he will need to add a fourth this year.
He faces the franchise the brought him his first two titles – in 2012 and 2013 – in this year’s showpiece and the Lakers’ performances in the Conference finals suggest they will overpower their opponents.
A 4-1 success over the Denver Nuggets sent out a message to the Heat, with James scoring 38 points and claiming 16 rebounds and 10 assists in game five.
But the Lakers game doesn’t just revolve around ‘King James’, with Anthony Davis, in particular, sharing the limelight this season. The former New Orleans power forward has averaged 26.1 points per game this year.
The seven-time NBA All-Star has yet to get his hands on the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy and he will be determined to put that right – Davis is
20/21 to score over 28.5 points in Game 1.
Youthful Heat Seek Fairytale Finale
The Heat are big underdogs to win the series at
29/10 having done incredibly well to reach the finals, especially when you consider where they were last season.
Eastern Conference champions Miami had a losing record of 39-43 in 2018-19, but turned that around to go 44-29 and surprised many with series wins over Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics in the play-offs.
Shooting guard Jimmy Butler and power forward Bam Adebayo (
5/4 – Game One – Over 4.5 assists) have been the shining lights for the Heat, with the more experienced Butler averaging 19.9 points per game.
The 31-year-old only joined the Heat last summer, after previous spells in Chicago, Minnesota and Philadelphia, but has made an instant impact. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said that “to get somebody like Jimmy Butler was one of the most remarkable recruiting visits we have ever had.”
The Heat have managed to blend experience and youth nicely with Walker and 34-year-old Slovenian point guard Goran Dragic proving the old heads in the locker, room, while Adebayo, Duncan Robinson and rookie Tyler Herro look like future stars of the sport.
The head-to-head stats show the Lakers though have won four in a row against the Heat, including a 110-113 victory last time they met in December 2019.
Their displays in the playoffs suggest the games in the finals could be high scoring, with the Lakers scoring over 100 points in their last nine matches while the Heat have scored three figures in their last 11.
The Heat face a mammoth task to stop LeBron and co from claiming the NBA Championship over a best-of-seven series but should at least push them hard with the Lakers priced at
3/1 to triumph in six games.