Lakers and Heat take different paths to NBA Finals

James and Davis dominate for L.A., but a handful of Miami players share the spotlight.

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Mark J. Terrill AP

The Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis, left, moves the ball against Denver Nuggets’ Paul Millsap during the Saturday’s playoff game in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Davis and teammate LeBron James are the Lakers’ two-man show. They have scored nearly half of the team’s points in playoff games leading up to the Finals.

The strange, split National Basketball Association (NBA) season is finally down to two teams. The Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat are playing in the 2020 NBA Finals. (Check Thursday’s Sports section for Game 1 results.)

The Lakers roared through the regular season with an NBA-best record of 52-19 (52 wins and 19 losses). Los Angeles won the series against the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets to become the Western Conference champs.

Miami managed a 44-29 record during the regular season, just fifth best in the Eastern Conference. But the Heat upset the higher-rated Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics on their way to the Eastern Conference title.

Although both teams posted 12-3 records during their playoff runs, the Lakers and Heat are very different teams.

Los Angeles, led by superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, is as close to a two-man team as there is in the NBA. During the 15 playoff games leading up to the Finals, James and Davis combined to score about 49 percent of the Lakers’ points, grab 45 percent of the rebounds and hand out 48 percent of the team’s assists.

Kevin C. Cox

Getty Images

The Miami Heat rely on a larger cast of characters to win games. One is Goran Dragic, right, shown here driving to the basket Tuesday against Kemba Walker of the Boston Celtics during the Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat has six players who have scored in double digits during the playoffs.

The Heat wins games a different way. Miami has six players who have averaged in double figures for points during the playoffs. Five players have been the high scorer for Miami. With the Heat, everybody takes a turn at leading the team.

So which team is going to win this year’s NBA championship? The Lakers with their two all-world superstars? Or the Heat with their star-of-the-game approach?

The Lakers look tough. James is playing at a high level. He had a “triple-double” in the fifth and final game against the Nuggets scoring 38 points, grabbing 16 rebounds and dealing out 10 assists. At 6 feet 10 inches tall, Davis is a handful for any defense.

While it seems the Lakers depend too much on their dynamic duo, why shouldn’t they? James and Davis score on more than half of their shots.

The Heat’s team is just as hot as the Lakers. While the team doesn’t have big names such as James and Davis, it still has some firepower. At 23 years old, Bam (don’t you love that name?) Adebayo is an up-and-coming star at power forward. Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic can score on anyone.

While I love Miami’s teamwork, I don’t know if the team will able to stop James and Davis. I think the Lakers will win in six games.

One final note about the NBA Finals. Although it has been a strange year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the champion will have won four series just as in other years. Whether it’s the Lakers or the Heat, they will have earned it.

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