It is confirmed. LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will measure their strength with the unlikely Miami Heat in the NBA absolute finals, after both won the Western and Eastern Conference respectively. If it’s true that the Californian formation enjoys a widespread favoritism, the fact is that Miami has been a real “giant knocker” in these play-offs.
10 YEARS LATER, LAKERS SEEK TO HONOR KOBE BRYANT
In a season hopelessly marked by the early and unexpected departure of one of the biggest stars in basketball history, a leading figure in Los Angeles’s most prominent franchise, the Lakers reach the finals after easily eliminating the trio formed by Portland Trailblazers (4-1), Houston Rockets (4-1) and Denver Nuggets (4-1): a total record of 12-3 in the playoffs.
The LeBron James and Anthony Davis duo seems to be the most fearsome in the NBA today, such is the strength with which they both alternated in the way they guided the Lakers to a clear victory in the Western Conference playoffs against the resilient Denver Nuggets, authors of an excellent campaign.
The Lakers’ last appearance in the NBA finals dates back to the 2009/10 season, with Phil Jackson as head coach and Kobe Bryant as MVP and biggest responsible for the last victory of the prestigious and historic Los Angeles team, which has already won 16 championships, a record surpassed only by the Celtics’ 17.
MIAMI HEAT: FROM “OUTSIDERS” TO EASTERN CHAMPIONS
Ranked 5th in the regular phase of the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat team could hardly have imagined it would reach the NBA finals, even more with such fairness as that with which they eliminated Indiana Pacers (4-0), Milwaukee Bucks (4-1) and Boston Celtics (4-2).
The truth is that without players as well individually quoted as their opponents, especially in the cases of the Bucks and the Celtics, the Heat saw Erik Spoelstra once again justify why he is considered one of the best coaches in the league.
Led by Jimmy Butler, regarded as a devalued superstar in the NBA, Miami also had other pieces of great importance to reach this finalist status: Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic and the young rookie Tyler Herro.
LEBRON JAMES REACHES 10TH FINAL IN THE LAST 11 YEARS
The discussion regarding the best player ever involves names like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but the truth is that with a fantastic career, “King” LeBron James has fought hard to appear on the list of candidates for this discussion.
With this qualification for the NBA finals, the 35-year-old forward has reached his 10th finals in the last 11 years. With a record 3-6 in 9 title decision appearances, James will seek to lead a third team to the ring after two wins with the Heat (2012 and 2013) and after returning to Cleveland to give the Cavaliers (2016) a title.
THE MOST INTERESTING MATCH-UPS OF THE FINALS
Anthony Davis vs Bam Adebayo. If much of the success achieved by the Miami Heat against the talented Boston Celtics came from the clear advantage they had in the inside game fight, with amazing performances by Bam Adebayo (showed a level of play that was unknown until then), what about the way Davis dominated the boards?
LeBron James vs Jimmy Butler. With Andre Iguodala in the equation. If, defensively, the Miami team is somewhat competent, much owes it to the individual contribution of Butler and Iguodala, two players who, historically, are able to limit Lebron James’ action in a very acceptable way.
It will be very interesting to see how the “King” will try to overtake the two best Heat defenders, in a phase where he doesn’t count on Dwyane Wade or Kyrie Irving by his side, but may well have in the “pick’n’roll” with Davis one of the best assets for these finals.
Rajon Rondo vs Goran Dragic. Since his return, the experienced Lakers guard has contributed in a very interesting way to the Lakers’ collective performance, seeming even more confident and consistent in the shooting, which throughout his career has always been the biggest gap in Rondo’s offensive panoply. In the Heat, the Slovenian Dragic has been performing at a great level and his performance in the finals against the Celtics speaks for itself.
Lakers bench vs Heat bench. Here, I believe that Frank Vogel’s team will be able to get the best of Erik Spoelstra’s team, because of the superior capacity that the Californian team will be able to have in the rotation, starting on the amount of solutions available.
While Miami has had Tyler Herro and Andre Iguodala as their main off-the-bench assets, on the LA side the effective and important rotation is done through pieces as different and complementary as Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso or Dwight Howard (who even went on to start, in exchange with Javale McGee, in the last games of the series against the Nuggets).
The two teams reached the NBA finals with precisely the same overall record (12-3) in each conference’s playoffs, indicating that Lakers and Heat will have no physical freshness handicaps, which could be substantially different if the Nuggets (forced twice into game 7) or the Celtics arrived here.
A minimum NBA prediction is guaranteed for each of the games that need to be played (the best of seven) at New Betting Tips.
Regarding the favoritism attributed to the Lakers to win the ring, Bet365 has an odd of 1.20 for the triumph of the Californian team and guarantees odds of 4.00 for another surprise starred by the Heat.