Recap of the 2020 NBA Finals

Source: NBA.com

Source: NBA.com

Daniel Novick, Staff Writer

The 2019-2020 NBA finals tipped off on September 30th, 2020. The Miami Heat, led by the gritty, third-team all-NBA small forward, Jimmy Butler, and on-the-rise big man, Bam Adebayo, took on the Los Angeles Lakers, led by NBA legend, Lebron James, and first-team All-NBA power forward, Anthony Davis. The expectations for this finals matchup were sky high, and the series of games certainly did not disappoint.

On August 17th, following a shortened regular season, the NBA playoffs began, and so did the journeys of the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers. A team must win three best-of-seven-games series in a row to advance to the NBA finals. Along their journeys to basketball’s greatest stage, each team competed well and was virtually unthreatened.

The Lakers had defeated the injury-riddled Portland Trail Blazers, the superstar-powered Houston Rockets, and the cinderella story Denver Nuggets all by a series score of 4 games to 1. The Heat had dominated the Pacers 4-0, upset the #1 seed Bucks 4-1, and scraped together a victory over the Celtics by a series score of 4-2. The Lakers, playing as the #1 seed, dominated the playoffs as if it was pure destiny to end up in the finals. The Heat, on the other hand, playing as the #5 seed, utilized an underdog mentality to fuel their determination to reach the finals.

GAME 1:
Game 1 of the finals began on September 30th, 2020. Miami worked to a quick advantage early in game 1. The battle was fairly close until the injuries started creeping in for the Heat. Miami point guard Goran Dragic suffered a foot injury that kept him on the sidelines for the rest of the game.

Later in the game, the Heat were cursed with yet another injury, as Bam Adebayo was sent back to the locker room. Adebayo, who finished with an underwhelming 8 points and 4 rebounds, was also forced to sit out for the remainder of the night. From this point on, the Lakers feasted off, extending their lead to as much as 26 at one point. At the end of regulation in game 1, the Lakers had defeated the Heat by a score of 116-98.

Anthony Davis led the team with 34 points and Lebron James led the team with 13 rebounds and 9 assists. The Heat played a tough game 1, but the injuries got the best of them. Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 23 points, while veteran shooting guard Andre Iguodala led the Heat in assists and rebounds with 6 and 5, respectively. Big man Kelly Olynyk and rookie shooting guard Kendrick Nunn also grabbed 5 rebounds for the Heat in game 1.

GAME 2:
Game 2 of the 2019-2020 NBA finals tipped off on October 2nd. The Heat was without two of its key players, Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo. Center Meyers Leonard took Adebayo’s spot in the starting lineup and Tyler Herro, becoming the youngest player ever to start in a finals game (20 years, 256 days), filled in Goran Dragic’s spot in the starting lineup.

The Lakers decisively won this game with ease. Anthony Davis, who scored 15 of his 32 points in the third quarter, was the real headliner. The fact that Lebron, who dropped 33 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, and dished 9 assists, nearly had a triple-double, didn’t make things any easier for Miami.

Jimmy Butler played nothing short of his very best, as he scored 25 points, tallied 13 assists, and grabbed 8 rebounds. However, Jimmy’s efforts weren’t nearly enough to overcome the Laker’s lead. It was a somewhat positive note, though, that center Kelly Olynyk and rookie shooting guard Tyler Herro scored 24 and 17 points, respectively. The Heat was in need of secondary scorers to make up for the loss of Dragic and Adebayo, and Olynyk and Herro stepped up when their team needed them the most.

GAME 3:
Heading into game 3, many sports analysts across the country already had written off the Heat as possible winners of this matchup. Stephen A. Smith of ESPN even believed that the Lakers would sweep the Heat in the series, beating them 4-0. Jimmy Butler and the Heat proved their doubters wrong in game 3, which tipped off on October 4th, 2020.

The Heat outscored the Lakers in every quarter, guaranteeing them the win. Butler put the team on his back and single-handedly willed his squad to a victory. The 5-time all star totaled 11 rebounds and 13 assists, making him just the third player in NBA history to have a 40 point triple-double in the finals.

Tyler Herro and Kelly Olynyk again provided much-needed assistance, as they scored 17 points each. The Heat was also able to tame Anthony Davis, who only tallied 15 points and 5 rebounds. It just wasn’t enough to overcome Jimmy Butler’s career night. As a team, the Heat killed the Lakers in the paint, scoring 52 points from close range compared to the Lakers’ 34 from that distance.

GAME 4:
With the momentous win two days prior and Bam Adebayo returning to the lineup, the Miami Heat had good reason to feel confident heading into game 4, which took place on October 6th. The game started off close, each team working to outdo their opponent in an impressive exhibition, resulting in the Laker holding onto a two-point lead at the half.

A competitive second half ending ultimately led to the Lakers winning the game by a score of 102-96. Lebron James got it done for the Lakers, as he managed to score 28 points and come down with 12 rebounds. Anthony Davis pitched in an additional 22 points as well. Jimmy Butler scored 22 points and was just one assist shy of recording a triple-double.

GAME 5:
Game 5 began on October 9th. It was an emotional and optimistic night for Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, who wore their black mamba jerseys, in honor of Kobe Bryant, and many fans and commentators noted the fact that the Lakers had never lost while wearing these threads. Many had already assumed the Lakers would win game 5, but as Heat small forward Jae Crowder had pointed out, the doubters gave the Miami Heat just enough motivation to battle it out.

In an emotional game for all, Jimmy Butler was the one who led the Heat to the victory. He played a game-high 47 minutes (there are 48 minutes in all four quarters combined). He also managed to secure his second triple-double of the series; he had 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. Heat rookie Duncan Robinson also scored 26 points, drilling 7 threes. Lebron James scored 40 points.

With 5 seconds left in the game, Lakers shooting guard, Danny Green, missed a three-point shot that would’ve put his team up by two points. Anthony Davis also tacked on 28 points, but the outstanding play from the Lakers’ two-headed monster was not enough to overcome Miami’s impressive perseverance.

GAME 6:
Game 6 tipped off on October 13th. Compared to such an epic display of competitive basketball in the first 5 games of the finals, game 6 was competitively underwhelming. Miami Heat veteran point guard Goran Dragic was finally healthy enough to play, but his return to the lineup did not provide the Heat enough power to outplay the Lakers, who truly dominated the game.

The Lakers bullied the Heat early in the game and showed no signs of stopping, hence its 64-36 lead at halftime. Lebron James played like Lebron James; there really is no other way to put it. The determination and fierceness of Lebron helped him to a casual 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists. Rajon Rondo and Anthony Davis also pitched 19 points each to the Lakers’ total score.

For Miami, Bam Adebayo led the way in scoring with 25 points. Jimmy Butler, tired from a hard-fought game 5, only managed to drop 12 points, and rookie sensation, Duncan Robinson, was only able to connect on 3 of his 10 shots. The Los Angeles Lakers won by a final score of 106-93 and were handed the Larry O’Brien trophy, the NBA championship trophy, after the victory.

The NBA finals MVP award was presented to Lebron James, who would add that trophy to his already well-decorated trophy case. This was Lebron James’ fourth NBA finals title, winning the MVP award in each of his triumphs.

The Lakers’ finals victory this season became just one of the seventeen NBA championships the organization has won, tying them with the Boston Celtics for most NBA finals victories in NBA history.