The Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers are set to square off in the 2020 NBA Finals beginning on Wednesday night. The best-of-seven series will take place inside the NBA’s ‘bubble’ at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla.
Tip-off of Game 1 is scheduled for 9:00 PM Eastern on ABC. The Lakers are a 4.5-point favorite, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers returned to the postseason for the first time since 2012-13 and now are in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2009-10, when they knocked off the Boston Celtics in seven games to win back-to-back titles. The Lakers entered the 2020 postseason as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The Lakers have lost just one game in each of their three playoff series this season.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James have carried the Lakers through the opening rounds of the playoffs. Davis has averaged a team-high 28.8 points per game through the postseason, while James has averaged 26.7 points along with 10.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game.
The two teams met twice during the regular season before the pause in play, with both games ending in the Lakers’ favor. Davis was the leading scorer in both, averaging 29.5 points.
Los Angeles got to this point with 4-1 series wins over the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, and the Denver Nuggets.
What to Know – Miami Heat
Like the Lakers, the Miami Heat enter the NBA Finals with a 12-3 postseason record. Miami made a brief appearance in the playoffs in 2017-2018, and last found themselves in the Finals in 2013-14, where they lost the San Antonio Spurs. James was a part of that star-studded 2013-14 Heat team, which also featured Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Miami is the first-ever No. 5 seed to punch their ticket to the NBA Finals.
The Heat have relied on a handful of players throughout the postseason, with six players averaging double-digit points per game. The core of Goran Dragic (20.9 ppg), Jimmy Butler (20.7 ppg), and Bam Adebayo (18.5 ppg) led the way, with sharp-shooting Tyler Herro (16.5 ppg) always capable of having a breakout game if left open to shoot.
In the two regular-season losses to the Lakers, Butler was the leading scorer in both, averaging 22.5 points per game.
To get here, the Heat swept the Pacers in the opening series, took care of top-seeded Milwaukee in five games in the semifinals, and bounced the Celtics in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Pick is In
Both of these teams ride into the finals with sparkling postseason records. The Lakers, as a top seed, were expected to reach the Finals, while the Heat had a Cinderella-esque postseason as one of the lower-ranked teams coming into play.
Miami features a young, talented squad that has found their mojo at the right time. LeBron and crew have the championship experience, and that will be a key in this series. This game should be close throughout, but the Lakers will take care of business in the end and cover.
Ride with LeBron and the Lakers (-4.5) in Game 1.