The Weird 2020 NBA Finals
The Miami Heat and The Los Angeles Lakers are the last 2 teams standing in the NBA Bubble. For those unaware, the NBA re-started their season in Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida after the ongoing 2019-2020 season was abruptly interrupted due to the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic. Since it was the tail-end of the season, only certain teams potentially eligible for the playoffs were invited to enter the bubble – referring to the special arrangement the NBA made with Disneyworld where players are kept inside the playing and living quarters permanently for the duration of the season. All players, team staff and employees in the bubble are tested everyday and monitored for potential health issues.
The NBA bubble has been very successful thus far as no player or staff has tested positive for the virus. However, with the special arrangement came a rather weird situation – no team had actual fans watching the games. Fans were invited to be present at the games virtually which was a nice feature but players basically played in empty arenas. Only the team logos on the floor gave any indication of what is supposed to be their home court.
That lack of home court advantage has played a significant role in the success and failure of many teams playing in the bubble. While not the main reason, a lack of home court certainly didn’t help the causes of the Milwaukee Bucks (no. 1 seed in the east), the Boston Celtics (losing to lower seeded Miami) and the LA Clippers (shockingly losing to the lower seeded Denver Nuggets). On the other hand, teams that generally don’t have a good home court crowd have managed to level the playing field and negate the effects of the lack of support.
Which brings us to the NBA Finals, beginning on Thursday, October 1 at 9am Manila time. Whoever wins this championship series can certainly lay claim to winning the weirdest, most unique NBA season ever. The Miami Heat enter the final round for the first time in 6 years when Lebron James, now with their opponents the Los Angeles Lakers, was leading their charge. The King won 2 championships with the Heat and it will be a very interesting scenario to see him play against his former coach, former boss, owner and organization. The Heat are a young team led by a superstar stud in Jimmy Butler and their superb Fil-Am coach, Eric Spoelstra. The truth is, most experts aren’t giving them much of a chance to beat the Lakers in a 7-game series because the Lakers are led by the 2 best players currently playing in the bubble – Lebron James and Anthony Davis. However, the last thing anyone should do is write off this Miami Heat team as it is capable of shocking the world as it did when it beat the mighty Boston Celtics in 6 games. Their heart, savvy, defense and their coach all never quit and they have shown a maturity beyond their actual young ages. Players like Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder and Bam Adebayo have almost become household names because of the way they’ve played in the bubble.
The Los Angeles Lakers on the other hand are fully expected to cop their 17th league championship to tie them with the Boston Celtics as the league’s most storied franchises. Aside from the aforementioned King and Davis, the Lakers have been a team clicking at the right time and playing defense by taking advantage of their extreme length having 7-footers Dwight Howard and Javale McGee backing up Davis. In the games the Lakers have won, their 2 all-stars have combined for an average of 60 points and their bench have played their roles to perfection. In each of the 3 previous series in the western conference, the Lakers lost 1 game per series in what was largely felt as games the Lakers lost and not ones their opponents won. In short, the Lakers have been dominant and look to continue that in the Finals with guys like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruzo, Danny Green and Markieff Morris all contributing.
This championship series includes many side stories – Lebron going for his 4th championship to cement his legacy further, Andre Iguodala seeing action in his 6th NBA finals has had much success against Lebron when he was with Golden State. That will certainly be valuable for the Heat. Jimmy Butler getting redemption after previously being called a bad team mate with his former teams. Anthony Davis never tasting success with the New Orleans Pelicans finally gets to show what he can do on the big stage. Coach Eric Soelstra himself going for his 3rd championship as a coach can also cement his coaching legacy. All in all, we can expect a very entertaining NBA Finals series.
Prediction: Lakers in 6
Finals MVP: Anthony Davis