NBA Finals: Lakers will sweep outmatched Heat


David Santiago, Miami Herald | TNS.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, left, jostles for position under the basket with the Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler (22) in Miami on Dec. 13, 2019.

By Sam Krimins, Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Lakers, led by superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, began their highly-anticipated NBA Finals series against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat this week. Lakers fans haven’t seen their team in the championship since 2010, when Kobe Bryant earned his fifth and final title. I predict that the Lakers will triumph once again, as they did in 2010.

After watching game one of the Finals, I believe this series may only go four games. The Lakers dismantled the Heat by 18 points to open the series on Wednesday. Los Angeles’ size advantage came in huge, pulling down 54 rebounds to Miami’s 36.

The night got worse for the Heat when leading scorer Goran Dragic left the game in the second quarter. Dragic reportedly suffered a plantar fascia tear, making him questionable for the rest of the series. 

Nonetheless, the Heat have had a terrific season. Butler proved he can lead a team, and the team acquired three great young building blocks in Duncan Robinson and rookies Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro. Herro set himself apart from the rest of the trio with his recent upburst in the playoffs, averaging 16.3 points per game and shooting 45.2%. Butler has praised the young players’ breakouts, notably wearing Herro’s high school jersey before a game. 

Herro, Nunn and Robinson open the court for Butler and All-Star center Bam Adebayo, and this spacing makes the Heat contenders. When Butler and Adebayo attack the paint, opposing defenders can’t fully rotate from the help sides without leaving Miami’s shooters open. Robinson and Herro torched the Boston Celtics thanks to this strategy, culminating in Herro’s 37 point performance in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Laker defenders need to stay tight on their man, allowing both Butler and Adebayo to attack their defender one-on-one.

Adebayo’s play will be crucial in this series, considering he matches up with four-time all-NBA first team power forward Davis. Adebayo must at least hinder Davis’ offense, which he couldn’t do in game one. Davis dominated Adebayo in the paint, making him look like a pedestrian defender in a 34-point outing.

Butler also has a nightmare matchup of his own. Butler must guard James, arguably the greatest player of all time. The four-time All-Defensive teamer is one of the best options for this task, but it’s almost pointless against the greatness of James.

The Lakers will win solely because of James and Davis. Despite Butler and Adebayo’s defensive prowess, the offensive firepower of the Lakers’ dynamic duo will easily take over. They made this clear against good Nuggets defenders Jerami Grant, Will Barton and Mason Plumlee, dominating them in the conference finals after they put the defensive clamps on All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. If the Lakers continue to score as easily as they did in game one, the series will end in four games.

The Lakers will sweep the Heat in this NBA Finals mismatch. James and Davis will continue to overpower the Heat defense, and the Laker defense will slow down the red-hot Heat thanks to Davis’ inside defensive presence. The only possible way the Heat could pull off the upset is if they find a way to slow down James or Davis. They haven’t shown an ability to do that thus far, and it looks like the Lakers will claim the Larry O’Brien Trophy soon.