NBA Finals Recap
For the 17th time in their history, the Los Angeles Lakers have won the NBA Finals. This ties them with the Boston Celtics for the most championships won by any team in the NBA. After the loss of Laker legend Kobe Bryant in January, the Lakers seemed destined to win the title. These expectations were temporarily derailed by the coronavirus outbreak and the resulting pause of the NBA season, but the Lakers were able to achieve their goal in the NBA’s Orlando Bubble.
The Lakers defeated the Miami Heat 4-2 in the Finals, winning Game 6 by a score of 106-93, although the Lakers led by as many as 36 points. The Lakers average margin of victory in each of their wins was approximately 12 points. Lebron James was awarded the Finals MVP award, averaging 29.8 points per game, 11.8 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game. He is the second oldest player in NBA history to win the award and the only player to win it with three different teams. This is Lebron’s fourth career Finals victory, moving his personal Finals record to 4-6. This further cements his legacy as one of the greatest players of all time.
However, Lebron did not win the series alone. Anthony Davis was a big time contributor to the team throughout the season and delivered multiple clutch shots in the postseason, including the game-winner in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Nuggets. Davis averaged 25 points and 10.7 rebounds per game during the series. He added 2 blocks per game as well, leading a dominant team defensive effort for the Lakers.
The Heat deserve a lot of credit for getting as far as they did, as they were a surprise team to come out of the Eastern Conference this season, upsetting the top seed Milwaukee Bucks - led by league MVP Giannis Antetokounpo - in the second round of the playoffs. Led by Jimmy Butler, the Heat beat the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals en route to their matchup with the heavily favored Lakers. The Heat were put in a hole early in the Finals, as Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo - their starting point guard and center - went down with injuries in Game 1 of the series. Both players ended up missing a portion of Game 1 and all of Games 2 and 3. The Heat lost the first two games as a result, but they were able to bounce back in Game 3 with a 40 point performance from Jimmy Butler. The Lakers would win Game 4, putting the Heat in an insurmountable 3-1 deficit.
Looking to the future, Lebron James is under contract for two more seasons with the Lakers for an annual average value of approximately $40 million. Anthony Davis will exercise his player option and will opt-out the last year of his contract worth $28.7 million. He intends to re-sign with the Lakers and could be in line for a raise if the salary cap remains at $109 million. The Lakers will be primed for another deep playoff run if they are able to retain Davis and James.