NBA Finals Recap

Shen Yang-Lim, Sports

This year’s NBA season ended with one of the most interesting matchups in NBA Finals history, with the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat facing off in the battle for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

During the playoffs, many teams that fans and analysts thought would make it to the end were eliminated and a lot of upsets occurred, such as the Denver Nuggets coming back from two 3-1 deficits to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz. NBA fans were also rewarded with long six to seven game series, such as the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics dueling it out in seven, and the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics having a long six game series with a lot of talent on both teams.

The Heat came into the 2019-2020 season with their superstar Dwyane Wade retiring just a few months before. Wade was one of the league’s most well known stars and had played with them for 14 seasons and won three championships on the Heat. Their mindset was to rebuild and try to look for stars who could bring the Heat back to playoff contention, and they pulled off a big trade in the offseason, acquiring star Jimmy Butler from the Philadelphia 76ers. The Heat already had a great young core of promising future stars such as center Bam Adebayo, who was slowly developing into one of the league’s best big men. Then they drafted rookie Tyler Herro from Kentucky who was a lights-out shooter from three. The Heat were not finished and picked up undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn, who had an underrated talent proving his worth in the NBA’s G League. 

He [Butler] just fits everything about us, our fabric, and who we are,” said Erik Spoelstra, Heat head coach.

In the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers wanted to leave their 2018-2019 season behind them after a terrible ending. They did not make the postseason and superstar Lebron James could not do much to help the team. It was clear that they needed to make some changes. They brought in All-Star big man Anthony Davis from a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for most of their young core. Davis perfectly complemented James’ play style and the Lakers were back to their dominant form. 

The Lakers also brought in many veterans such as Danny Green and re-signed point guard Rajon Rondo. During the season the Lakers team gelled perfectly and their chemistry grew. It was nonstop dominance as Davis and James took turns throwing lobs to each other. 

“There was no doubt that this crew would make it to the playoffs,” said Shayaan Nazeer, student at Apex High and a Lakers superfan.

The NBA playoffs looked much different than any previous year, as it would take place in Orlando where the games would be played inside a closed bubble with no access to the public. The players and staff did not get to see and return to their families and friends for three months, and many players faced stress and depression. In the end, the underdogs that did not get the respect that they deserved were the Miami Heat. They had triumphed in the Eastern Conference and moved on to the NBA Finals. On the other side, the LA Lakers were done demolishing the Denver Nuggets and moved on to face the Heat. The battle was set. 

“This was Lebron’s chance to prove he was not washed,” said Nazeer.

Game One had an unexpected turn of events as Miami’s key players went down with injuries.  Adebayo went down with a shoulder injury and Goran Dragic, their starting point guard suffered a leg injury. This gave the Lakers an easy win, 116-98. Game Two of the series was a continued dominance over the Heat, but this time the Heat shrunk the deficit into only 10 points,124-114. Game Three was when things started to shift in favor of the Heat. Heat won 115-104, which the Heat beat the Lakers and sent James into the Lakers locker room early. Game Four was a nailbiter, and the Lakers came out dominant, 102-96. Game Five resulted in a Heat win, with Lakers guard Green missing a crucial three to take the lead with five seconds left. The score was 111-108. The Lakers won the series in six, with the Heat helpless and tired, which resulted in the Lakers win.  Butler was held to 12 points, his lowest in the finals, and looked absolutely wasted, along with the rest of the Heat squad. Dragic came back after missing four games with his injury along with Adebayo, but that was no help and the Lakers got their 17th championship in the books. James got his 4th ring that night and Davis became an NBA champion for the first time in his career.

“Davis’ performance was crucial to their success because when Lebron was on the bench, he carried the team,” said Nazeer.