The NBA Finals are set: the Los Angeles Lakers will be taking on the Miami Heat.
Two historical franchises both on quests to capture yet another Larry O’Brien trophy.
The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to win their 17th championship while the Miami Heat are looking to win their fourth.
Ironically, LeBron James helped the Miami Heat win two of those championships during his tenure along side with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Now, LeBron will be matching up against one of his former teams on the brightest stage under the brightest lights.
Here are three important keys that will determine whether or not the Lakers can win this series.
1. Anthony Davis must show up in the 4th quarter.
LeBron James partner in crime, Anthony Davis is going to be the x-factor in this series.
Anthony Davis must show up in the fourth quarter in order for this Laker team to win the championship.
As we have seen throughout the playoffs, the Lakers do not truly have a third option.
Every other night, someone else steps up to the plate, whether it be playoff Rondo, KCP or Kuzma.
But, in the fourth quarter, during crunch time, Davis cannot be afraid of the moment.
His critics have always claimed he comes up small in the big moments.
Thus far this year, he has proved them wrong.
He hit that huge buzzer-beater that could have potentially altered the series against the Nuggets to give his Lakers a 2-0 lead.
Throughout the playoffs, Davis is leading the Lakers with 28.8 points per game.
He needs to keep up the good work and enforce his will against this young Miami Heat team.
2. The Los Angeles Lakers need to be dominant on the boards.
The Miami Heat are the smaller team in this matchup.
Heat C, Bam Adebayo is very similar to Nuggets big man, Nikola Jokic.
He is an excellent playmaker with the ball and is not afraid to take this opponent off the dribble.
Throughout the playoffs, Bam is leading the team in rebounds (11.4), assists (4.9) and blocks (0.9).
Anthony Davis made it clear to this team in the offseason that he did not want to play the center position.
Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee’s minutes in this series will be critical as they will have the task of slowing down Bam Adebayo.
The Lakers will need as many second chance opportunities as they can get while facing one of the best defenses in the league.
3. The Los Angeles Lakers need to excel on the defensive end of the floor.
Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships.
Throughout the playoffs, the Lakers have the 3rd ranked defense while the Heat have the 5th ranked defense.
The Heat have defeated the Pacers, Bucks and Celtics in their path to the NBA Finals.
They shut down the back to back MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo and will present a similar strategy to LeBron James.
The Heat held Giannis to just 21.75 points per game as compared to his regular season average of 29.5.
The Heat have bodies to throw at LeBron in Jamison Crowder, Jimmy Butler and of course the former Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala.
Similarly to the Lakers, the Heat have a bunch of guys who can show up on any given night.
In the series against the Celtics, it was the young guys leading the way in rookie Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo.
Herro, although a rookie, does not shy away from the big moment.
After defeating the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, Herro responded to Celtic legend, Paul Pierce:
Tyler Herro responded to Paul Pierce after Pierce said he needs a larger sample size to call Herro a bucket 🗣️ pic.twitter.com/ok73VKxDvN
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 29, 2020
The Miami Heat are riding high on confidence and ready to bring the fight to the Lakers in what should be a very entertaining finals.
Two good defensive teams squaring off with everything on the line.