The 2020 National Basketball Association (NBA) championship is in full swing, with the Los Angeles Lakers leading the series 3-1 against the Miami Heat. Who will prevail? How is the game amid COVID-19 different from previous championships? Let’s take a look at what’s happened so far leading up to the potential elimination game on Friday, Oct. 9.
The regular season started on Oct. 22, 2019, and was supposed to end in April 2020. However, after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19 on March 11, the 2019-2020 NBA season was suspended. In hiatus, the NBA relocated to an isolated arena at Walt Disney World in Florida called the bubble, where players stay isolated in order to eliminate the threat of the coronavirus.
With strict health and safety guidelines in place, the season resumed on July 30. The bubble has not only been extremely effective in preventing coronavirus from infecting players and staff members, but has also helped teams crack down on the sport without any outside distractions.
Before advancing to the finals, our two teams first took on the Eastern and Western championships. In the West, the Los Angeles Lakers were joined by other teams from Portland, Houston, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, Denver, Utah, and Dallas. Against both the Portland Trail Blazers and the Houston Rockets, the Lakers won four consecutive games after losing the first.
Leading up to the finals, the Denver Nuggets gave Los Angeles a run for their money, but after Anthony Davis knocked down a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer in Game 2, it was already obvious the Lakers would not go down without a fight.
The Eastern conference started with eight teams from Miami, Milwaukee, Orlando, Indiana, Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Brooklyn. Miami demolished the Indiana Pacers in the first round, then easily pulled through against the Milwaukee Bucks. In the third round, Miami took on the Lakers’ rivals, the Boston Celtics, and won a couple of close games to advance to the finals.
So far, we’ve seen stellar basketball and some rockstar players in the NBA Finals. On the Lakers’ end, despite playing his first NBA championship ever, Anthony Davis made an incredible impact on the Lakers’ offensive and defensive game. Rajon Rondo, with only two points in Game 4, and Alex Caruso show that you don’t have to make baskets to make a big impact on the game. After playing a tremendous game in the regular season, Kyle Kuzma has struggled in the playoffs making a few clutch baskets.
Additionally, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s confidence and communication have helped the team make some big plays. Speaking of communication, this team has improved drastically in that department ever since LeBron James made the move from Cleveland, not to mention great coaching from Frank Vogel. In their first championship appearance in a decade, the Lakers have proven that they are not a team to forget.
Although they are currently losing the series 3-1, Miami Heat played amazingly. After losing star players Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic to injuries, the Heat struggled in Game 1 and were completely swept off the court. In his 12th year as Miami’s head coach, Erik Spoelstra displayed his adaptability and vast coaching experience after leading his team to a third win despite the injuries.
Jimmy Butler, a small forward and shooting guard, played an average of 44 minutes per game and made some incredible plays, proving him worthy of the nickname, “Jimmy Buckets.” In his sixth consecutive NBA Finals and 10th championship appearance, Andre Iguodala’s ability to communicate with his fellow teammates led them to big plays.
Jae Crowder, Duncan Robinson, and Kelly Olynyk played extra minutes in absence of Adebayo and Dragic, further contributing to the Miami Heat’s impressive game.
Finally, we can’t talk about the Miami Heat without praising Tyler Herro, the youngest player in history to start in an NBA Finals game. Not only is he trusted by his fellow teammates to hold down the fourth quarter, but he also blew everyone away with his Rookie-of-the-Year-worthy performance.
Anticipation is high for Game 5 of the series. If the Lakers win, they will take home the trophy to Los Angeles as the underdogs. Despite having Bam Adebayo back from his neck injury in Game 4, the Miami Heat still lost, raising suspicion about whether they’ll be able to pull through even with a fully-stacked team.
Coming back from being down 3-1 in a series has been done, but they might need a miracle. It’s obvious that neither team is going to go down without a fight, so the upcoming Game 5 will certainly have fans on the edge of their seats.