Tomorrow the NBA finals start.
Somehow, someway we are here.
It has been almost 12 months since the NBA season started and we were due for the next to be kicking off just before Halloween next month.
The finals, due to start in June have only just arrived.
This has been a season like no other.
There has been unpredictability at every turn, but are we finally set for something a little more predictable?
According to Play Up, the Lakers are $1.25 favourites and the Heat are lagging behind at $4.00.
Outside of the cash, every respectable media personality has picked the Lakers to win and by some margin too.
So will it really be this easy for LeBron and AD to snatch the first crown for the Lakers since 2010?
Well, on paper, yes?
Obviously, the largest factor on either team is a little man by the name of LeBron James.
Apparently, he is a pretty good player and has been for some time now, and well he has been here before.
LBJ will play in his 10th finals series when he suits up tomorrow. An absolutely incredible statistic for a man who is in year 17 of his career. He has been to the NBA finals more times than he hasn’t AND if we took his career and turned him into a franchise, he has the fourth most finals appearances of all time. He has more than 26 other teams, that’s just crazy.
The other X-factor that the Lakers got is the best big in the league Anthony Davis.
Yes, yes. Nikola Jokic has had an incredible offseason and Joel Embiid has been great the past couple of years, but neither is close to AD.
He can shoot, he can score down low, he can pass and he can fit and mould into being either the Number 1 or 2 option on any team.
But in reality, outside of these two, the Lakers are a little thin around the edges.
They’ve got solid role players like Rondo, Kuzma and Howard, but the thing they’ve got to contest with is something that comes with the respective ages of their players.
Inconsistency that comes with being older and having tired bodies. You can see this happen regularly with Rondo and Dwight in particular.
Then there is the other.
Inconsistency that comes with youth. Kuzma and Caruso in particular are remembered for their peaks, the 20pt games and the thunderous dunks, but once again the lows are too low and they too often have 5pt nights.
So all it takes is an off night from either of their big stars and the Lakers have a tendency to drop a game or two and that is dangerous for them.
You could see this in both the series against the Rockets and the Nuggets.
Now looking at the Heat they almost have the exact opposite issue to the Lakers.
They are incredibly deep, but lack the traditional star power to match up with LeBron and AD.
Star wise, Miami has Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
Two very solid players in this league, who essentially play the same positions as LBJ and AD.
Only problem is, they are like the Aldi versions of them.
Jimmy is a discount LeBron, both play SF, great at scoring, very good defence and their mentalities are what set them apart. Except, well, Jimmy just does everything a little shitter.
Exactly the same with Bam and AD, similar skillsets, he just does everything a little bit worse.
Where the Heat do have the upper hand is their depth.
Jimmy, Bam, Dragic, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Jae Crowder, Andre Iguodala and Meyers Leonard.
They are just deep. If one player fails, you already know someone else is going to step up and score or rebound or pass for them. Just look at what Herro did in the ECF, scoring 37 in a game and averaging 19.1 across the entire series. FYI, he is a Rookie.
Looking at this, I don’t exactly think this will be the cakewalk win for the Lakers that some are expecting it to be.
Miami upset both the Bucks and Celtics to get where they are, and just because nobody saw it coming doesn’t mean they can’t do it again.
In these NBA Finals, you have two diametrically opposed teams.
One whose philosophy is to win by committee and the others is to win through the sheer willpower of its stars.
So the question here is, who does it?
If it was anyone other than LeBron I might tend to lean towards the Heat.
LeBron needs this win for his legacy, he needs this to chase the ghost of MJ, he needs this to earn the respect that he already should have.
I don’t think even a brick wall could stop him now.
Maybe the Heat can do it though, and it’s probably not that far fetched seeing how the Clippers collapsed earlier this month.
I’m sure that they believe they can get the King to capitulate and I expect the Heat to show the tenacity and resilience that has made them the standout story of the year, but I’m afraid that they may have run into an unstoppable object, hurtling towards its destiny.
It should be a great series and I’m excited to see it unfold but at the end of the day.
Lakers in 6.