So it is the Miami Heat vs the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2020 National Basketball Association (NBA) finals this year. Lebron James and company beat the Denver Nuggets out west 4 games to 1 while the Heat took one game longer to ease out the Boston Celtics 4-2 in their matchup in the east. Now we look at a surprise finals match up. Not so much of the Lakers being in there but more of how the Heat made it.
It seems the Pat Riley culture continues to weave magic as protégé head coach Eric Spoelstra got the better of the equally talented Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. Miami has made the most of their big 3 in Goran Dragic, Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. The three stars are expected to continue leading Miami against the Lebron James and Anthony Davis (AD) superstar duo.
It would look like the Heat would have the underdog tag in this series as many were expecting either the Milwaukee Bucks, the Celtics or the Toronto Raptors to advance. The Heat simply powered their way through. Now how do we feel they would match up against the formidable Lakers? I think they can match very well against the team from Hollywood:
The Heat is overflowing with confidence right now. Beating the number 1 Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics are uneasy feats. The two teams are solid opponents and with Miami making it appear like a cake walk tells a lot of the morale the Heat would be taking with them to the NBA finals. Goran Dragic is having a renaissance season, Jimmy Butler is a constant force and Bam Adebayo is dominating down low. Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Jae Crowder and Andre “Iggy” Iguodala are key support members who can click at any given night. If Adebayo finds it hard to match against a Dwight Howard – Anthony Davis tandem, coach Spoe can always call upon Kelly Olynik and Myers Leonard to add more muscle down low.
Crowder and Iguodala, two mid season acquisitions, will definitely get the assignment on Lebron. It seems Pat Riley predicted that the team needs defensive clout if they were to reach the finals and true to form, both players proved their worth in guarding opponents’ best players. Now they get the chance to try to limit The King’s onslaught.
Lebron will still get his points no matter what but Crowder and Iggy will make him earn them all.
Adebayo may be able to match well with Anthony Davis but with the Lakers’ massive frontline, the Heat would need to give Olynik and Leonard a few quality minutes on the floor.
Coaching and Defensive Strategy
Erik Spoelstra has more championship experience than Lakers head coach Frank Vogel and Spoe’s familiarity with how Lebron plays, the same man who gave Spoe his championship rings in his days in Miami, will work to the Heat’s advantage.
Miami would anticipate that James would bully his way inside hence the Crowder and Iggy defensive stopper strategy. The Heat would also have quick defenders to chase after the Laker shooters once Bron attempts a drive and kickout play.
When Bron and AD plays a pick and roll, here’s when things get tough. Whoever is guarding Davis needs to be quick enough on the switch to prevent an open jumper by Lebron or even strong enough to take him head on should he decide to drive. Crowder and Iggy switching over to AD doesn’t pose much of a problem as both are quick and can stand their ground against any big man.
Miami’s defensive strategy will be put to a test against the Lakers.
For coach Frank Vogel and his staff, any pattern or play that doesn’t work, they can always shift to Lebron carrying the team on his shoulders when needed the most. The Heat will have their hands full against the Lakers but if this series goes to a game 7, my bet is that Miami may pull the rug under Bron and AD and complete their Cinderella run.
That’s the beauty of the game of basketball. Odds may favor one or the other but a victory is not always assured. On the the NBA Finals!
(The writer is a senior leader in the Business Process Outsourcing industry managing Philippine countryside operations)