Heat vs. Lakers, the Unexpected Finals


Yoav Kovar, Segev Sharon, and Brian McQuillen

The 2020 NBA season was the craziest season the league had ever had. Due to COVID-19, the league experienced a hiatus from early March to late July. Games resumed in a ‘bubble’ in Orlando, where the top 19 teams competed for the opportunity to win an NBA championship. The two teams that made the finals were an underdog Miami Heat team and the favorites coming into the season, the Los Angeles Lakers. These two teams battled it out in a tough six-game series, with the Lakers ultimately winning the 2020 NBA Championship.

The Heat were the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference with 44 wins and had an impressive regular season considering the fact that many viewed them as a team that would struggle to make the playoffs. The Heat were led by two all-stars, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, as well as a talented veteran point guard in Goran Dragic. The Heat featured a plethora of role players such as  Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Jae Crowder, Andre Iguodala, and Kendrick Nunn that all had their moments during the shortened season. Head Coach Erik Spoelstra is widely recognized as one of the elite head coaches in the league. Spoelstra has two championships and is a mastermind on the sidelines. This team was incredibly versatile and hurt teams by shooting efficiently from three-point range and playing stingy defense. Although they ultimately came up short of their goal, this was a team that should be commended for their grit and determination. 

On the other hand, the Lakers were the first seed in the Western Conference and as most people anticipated, they were going to be one of the last teams standing. Led by all-time great LeBron James and superstar Anthony Davis, the Lakers finished the regular season with 52 wins which was third in the league. Along with that, key contributors were big man Dwight Howard, sharpshooter Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and floor general Rajon Rondo, who had dealt with lingering injuries throughout the course of the season. First-year head coach, Frank Vogel, dealt with a ton of pressure due to the

 high expectations a LeBron James-led team will always have. However, he prepared his team throughout the entire season, which is evident since they were crowned champions. This team had a ton of height, athleticism, three-point shooting, and talent. Along with that, their veteran leadership from Javale McGee and J.R. Smith went a long way as they mentored younger players such as Kyle Kuzma and Talen Horton-Tucker. Therefore, this Lakers team was always destined for greatness and they lived up to their expectations as they were crowned 2020 NBA champions. 

Going into the series, junior Segev Sharon predicted that it would be a Lakers win in six games due to their overwhelming size and two superstars. He believed that stars win teams’ playoff series’, and the Lakers had two of the top three players in the series. Miami would put up a good fight due to their defense and shooting, but the Lakers would be too talented. Meanwhile, senior Brian McQuillen predicted that the Lakers would win in 5 games since they were way more experienced than the Heat, and also they did not have anyone to stop LeBron James who ultimately was named the 2020 NBA Finals MVP. When the final matchup was set, junior Yoav Kovar had the Lakers winning in five games. “The Lakers had LeBron and Anthony Davis dominating the court for the entire western conference, and their battle against the Heat should be an easy victory, only letting up one game to the Heat due to mistakes or minor injuries,” he argued.  Juniors Jack Ziegher and Arihant Birani predicted that the Lakers would win in six games, while juniors Daniel Lee and James Park had the Heat winning in seven games.

Game one of the NBA Finals was a devastating game for the Heat’s players, as Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic both suffered injuries that lasted until games four and six respectively. The Lakers won the game without much resistance and moved onto game two, where they would win and go up 2-0 in the series. The Lakers played phenomenal defense and made plenty of three-pointers to outperform the Heat in both games. Game three was a big win for the Heat, specifically Tyler Herro, who was trending on social media for snarling at the Lakers. Butler was the real superstar of that game, exploding for 40 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists, in what is one of the best Finals performances of all time. Game four’s outcome was a close win for the Lakers, now up 3-1 in the series. Anthony Davis’ defensive effort and timely three-pointer put the game away. The only team to return from 3-1 were the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, led by LeBron James, who was playing for the team up 3-1 this time around. Game five was the Heat’s first game facing a chance at being eliminated. The Heat’s players put every last ounce of energy they had into that game, winning by only three points after a disaster play by both Danny Green and Markieff Morris. Danny Green missed a wide-open three to go up by two points, which Morris had rebounded. After holding the ball on the free-throw line for a couple of seconds, he turned it over, throwing away the ball and the game. That gave the Heat a one-point lead with 2.2 seconds to go. The Lakers intentionally fouled but Tyler Herro made both shots. Jimmy Butler played marvelously, putting up 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. Game six was proof that the Heat had put in everything they had to win game five, but the Lakers still had more in them. The Lakers gained an enormous lead of 28 points going into the second half, and although the Heat did cut the lead to thirteen points, the Lakers ended up winning the game and series, making them 2020 NBA champions. James dominated that game, and the series, and was rewarded with the Final’s MVP and his fourth NBA championship. James dedicated this win to the late Kobe Bryant, who passed away in January. James looked up to Bryant in high school, so he and the team did everything they could to honor his legacy. The Lakers fulfilled their goal, and walked out of Orlando as the NBA champs.