Can the Miami Heat continue their magical run? Or will the Los Angeles Lakers continue their run to history?
The NBA could not have picked two more evenly matched teams when it comes to stats. In pretty much every category the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat are almost identical. Just take a look at this:
|Stat||L.A. Lakers (Rank)||Miami Heat (Rank)|
Add in Eric Spoelstra going up against his former centerpiece in Lebron James and you have the NBA Finals everyone outside of Denver, CO wanted. Can Jimmy Butler and his band of misfits knock off the heavily favored bully’s that can sway a game with a memo to the league office? It is possible, but highly unlikely.
Despite Tyler Herro showing he can absolutely take over a game and showing he has much more than a deadly 3-pointer, and Andre Igoudala getting his 5th shot at Lebron James in the finals. This Lakers bench is simply too deep with way too many athletic Bigs that can overpower even the otherworldly Bam Adebayo. I see L.A. using that bench to its advantage the way it did against its last 2 opponents, the Houston Rockets (they went small with Anthony Davis at Center) and Denver Nuggets (they went big with Dwight/JaVale and AD at PF).
The Miami Heat ran through the Eastern Conference with a “small ball” lineup that unlike Houston can play shut down defense. That worked in a conference with inferior Bigs to that of the Western that boasts some all-timers in Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, etc. The Heat have been able to scrap through 3 rounds against inferior or injured rosters. The Pacer’s showed exactly how far away they are in round 1, Giannis went down and the Bucks folded in round 2, and Boston Celtics although another good story was way ahead of schedule making the Eastern Conference Finals about 2 years ahead of schedule and their youth showed as Miami just out-played them in the finer points of the game using their veteran leadership as the edge.
A combo of Lebron James and Rajon Rondo will shut down the 34-year old wiley Goran Dragic who somehow found the youth to average 20+ points-per-game in these playoffs. Almost 5 points higher than the regular season avg. of 16.2. Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee are more than a match for Bam Adebayo in the paint with the advantage in size and similar athleticism. Bam will provide more offense, but Dwight and JaVale just frustrated the best Center in the league in Nikola Jokic who is everything Bam is without the uber-athleticism and 3-point shot. But much more size (Bam 6’9” 255, Jokic 7’0” 284). And we haven’t even gotten to the 2nd-best Big-Man in the NBA and this Lakers lifeblood.
As much as people want to point out Lebron flirting with a triple-double every night (averaging 26.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game). The true heart of this team is their insanely talented big, beyond the game 2 winning 3 in the WCF, this team goes as it’s star does. I know this seems like common sense, but you only have to look at the other sideline from Miami to see a team that has a new hero every night. Not in L.A., if Miami somehow finds a way to shut down AD and limit Lebron, they could win this thing. I just don’t see a way of Miami being able to do that consistently enough to get 4 wins first. Los Angeles is just simply too deep, and to versatile for Miami and its weak bench beyond Herro and Igoudala. Mix in the lack of size with L.A. capable of playing any version of “ball” the opponent can throw at them, and you have a recipe for Lebron and Rondo to complete their legacies with a championship in Purple and Gold.
By now I am sure you have guessed I am picking the Lost Angeles Lakers in this series, even though they are heavy favorites at -360 on FanDuel, you can profit by picking the correct Series Total Games where I took the Lakers in 5 as I think Jimmy Buckets and company will squeak out a victory around Game 3 or 4. You can make this bet here:
I do not see Miami ever giving in though and believe every win by the Lakers will be a hard-fought battle. Any O/U line set north of 215 I am going to hammer the Under, then the opposite for anything south of 215. So for example I took this Under from FanDuel here:
As I have said, this Finals will be a series of close games, so any spread greater than 3 points I’m going to take the Heat, such as this spread from FanDuel here. This Miami D is just too tenacious to get blown out:
Playoff Rondo is in full form as well, so anytime I see a scoring line like this where his line is set at less than 9 and positive odds, I will happily take it like I did here:
Even though I believe this ends rather quickly in 5, I do whole-heartedly believe this will be an all-time battle of the upstarts vs. the bully. But like most slanted battles, the one with the size, speed, and killer instinct advantage will come out on top. Just don’t expect a bunch of high-flying scoring, but much more banging in the paint and ball movement. This will be another example used by old-heads to say the “new-fangled small ball” doesn’t work, while ignoring how position-less this Lakers team truly is.