At the end of the season, one team will be holding the Larry O’Brien trophy and celebrating profusely with the right mind of their stars after accomplishing the status quo of being the champion of the most prestigious Basketball club competition like every other team that won it every year. This time, though, it’s going to happen at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World in October.
It’s been an unorthodox season because of the four-and-a-half-month halts caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with which the imagination of the 2019-20 season seemed a distant memory. But the NBA is back on track to crowning a champion is inevitable and the teams are gearing up for their all conference final showdown.
Basically, 22 teams each played eight seed all-conference to determine the field for the NBA playoffs, which began Aug. 17. From there, it was a traditional postseason, even if it’s come a bit later than usual and in a different environment.
Western Conference Finals
According to the Odds for the Finals Los Angeles Lakers is the favorite at -210 to win their 17th title in franchise history and LeBron James’ fourth championship in his career. The “real” team from Los Angeles will face the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference final after their Staples Center roommates, the Los Angeles Clippers, coughed up a 3-1 series lead to the Nuggets.
Just after the second game of the western conference final on Sunday January 20, night, the Denver Nuggets gave the LA Laker scare of the season as they came behind 16 points led in just about 8:12 minutes left in the third quarter, before Anthony Davis’ buzzer-beater gave the Lakers a 105-103 win and a 2-0 series lead, but it was quite a way to get to the end.
While it still might not feel real, it is: the Los Angeles Lakers is playing the Denver Nuggets and not the other Los Angeles team, LA Clippers, in the Western Conference Finals, which began on Friday, September 18. The Lakers won their regular season series with the Nuggets 3-1, with their only loss coming on a night when LeBron James was sidelined with a muscle strain. The Lakers lost 128-104.
Since LeBron arrived in Los Angeles, the Lakers have faced the Nuggets seven times and LA is 5-2 SU in those games, including two wins in Denver and a victory over them in the bubble. That being said, home and away splits won’t play a factor this time around and this series is likely going to come down to the centers, Anthony Davis and Nikola Jokic.
Jokic just got done putting up a stat line for the ages by averaging 24.4 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.6 assists vs the Clippers, while The Brow manhandled the Rockets and put up 26-12-4 in five games. However, the Los Angeles Lakers edges the Denver Nuggets at this stage with their defensive prowess.
While the Nuggets have certainly proved their resilience, oddsmakers believe their unlikely journey through the 2020 NBA Playoffs will end in the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers opened as heavy favorites to advance to the NBA Finals, with bookmakers expecting it to be a short series, with a 4-1 Lakers victory the most likely outcome based on the prop betting odds up on the board.
With the Lakers in the routine romp through the 2020 NBA Playoffs with a statement win in Game 1 and 2 of the western conference finals, the Nuggets once again shocked the world by pulling yet another upset on the heels of the Game 2 win over the Laker before the buzzer point.
More importantly, Los Angeles led by a pair of superstars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, breezed through the first two rounds of the postseason, losing just two games in total up to this point. Denver, on the other hand, became the first team in NBA history and just the third in any of the four major American professional sports to win back-to-back series after falling into a 3-1 deficit in each. Can they continue such a feat against the imperius Lakers? But the impounding Lakers is the stack favourite to advance.
The Eastern Conference Finals
The Eastern conference on the other hand is getting rumbled between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtic. Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat face off against Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics in their eastern conference final which began on Thursday September 17. After the Game 3 victory for Boston Celtic, Miami Heat is leading the conference final with 2-1.
It may have taken 53 minutes of game time but the Miami Heat outmuscled the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final and the legend of Bam Adebayo grows. The Heat’s third-year center had a block for the ages on the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum in the closing seconds of overtime that pretty much encapsulated what this Miami team is all about.
The Heat are now the favourites to win the Eastern Conference final after opening as slight underdogs in Game 1 and, all things considered, they didn’t play that well. But where they found the edge was in the paint, outscoring the Celtics 48-26. Thus, it has been the foregoing issue for the Celtics while they try to hold the fort with Daniel Theis and Robert Williams at center.
While after their victory in the most exhilarating heated match against the defending champion, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtic will be flying high against their opponent in the Eastern Conference finals, Miami Heat. But, their first two matches lost is a catalyst for the Heat who defeated the high flying Malwueke Bucks to advance to the conference final.
Moreover, according to the odds for the Finals Miami Heat is the favorite to advance to the final. The Heat played well against the Raptors this campaign and won the season series against the defending champs 2-1. However, they lost two of their three games against the Celtics. Both Los Angeles teams appear to have an advantage against the Heat, as the Lakers and Clippers are 2-0 against them on the year.
But the resurging Heat have two All-Stars in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, but neither is a dominant superstar. However, the coaching ability of Erik Spoelstra, defensive prowess, and depth helps Heat compete with any team. Spoelstra is able to put together spectacular defensive game plans because so many of his key players can defend multiple positions.
Boston Celtic might be high flying and tenacious in their approach, but the impact of Adebayo and Butler, coupled with tactical nuance of the team is already proving to be the champion catalyst in their quest to win the unorthodox NBA extended season.
Either Miami Heat or the Los Angeles Laker, the two are the favourites according to the Odds for the all-conference final showdown.