The NBA Finals matchup is set! The Los Angeles Lakers will be taking on the Miami Heat in the 2020 NBA Finals.
I have detailed some stats and keys to success for the Los Angeles Lakers to win this series.
Season Series: Lakers lead 2-0
09/08/2019: Lakers 95 – Heat 80
12/13/2019: Lakers 113 – Heat 110
Postseason Stat Comparison:
- 49.8% FG
- 35.5% 3PT
- 113.9 PPG
- 45.9% FG
- 35.7% 3PT
- 112.2 PPG
Lakers Keys To Success
Movement in the Half Court Offense
The Miami Heat will most likely use a defensive strategy that is a combination of the way they played Boston and Milwaukee. To restrict LeBron James from driving and to minimize space in the post for Anthony Davis, Heat Coach Eric Spoelstra will likely pack the paint. The goal of this is to keep James and Davis away from the rim and force the Laker’s role players to contribute points.
Zone defense was another strategy that the Heat often employed against Boston. It is likely that the Lakers will see a similar scheme because of their shooting struggles from the perimeter. Many teams have deployed a zone against the Lakers, knowing their struggle from deep. Defensively, the Heat’s goal is to have the Lakers beat them with perimeter shooting.
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While the Lakers have struggled offensively in the half court at times, they have also shown that they can be very dangerous. The common trend for the Lakers’ poor halfcourt offense is stagnant off-ball players. This allows the defense to set up in their defensive positions where they can easily guard their man while also being ready to help on-ball.
When the Lakers’ off-ball players are continuously moving, the defense must worry about cutters to the basket, shooters coming off screens, and therefore, will have a harder time helping when the ball is taken to the rim. Movement in the offense gives the Lakers superstars room to drive to the basket while simultaneously giving off-ball players chances to score. If the Lakers run their offensive sets and continue to move on and off the ball, they should have no problem in their half court offense.
The rebounding battle will be one of the determining factors of this series. In the postseason, the Lakers and Heat are averaging 43.7 and 42.9 rebounds per game, respectively. Both teams include star post players Anthony Davis and Bam Adebayo, who will be battling for boards all series. The Lakers also have two versatile bigs in Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, who have both played well this playoffs.
Dwight Howard in particular had his best string of games since joining the Lakers last series against the Nuggets. While the Lakers should have the advantage with their three athletic bigs, Anthony Davis struggled rebounding against the Nuggets. The Lakers will look for AD to be aggressive on the boards like he has been all season. If the Lakers bigs are hungry for rebounds, they should be able capitalize off second chance points offensively, and limit second possessions on defense.
Legendary football coach Paul Bryant said it best: “Defense wins championships.” That explains why the Lakers and Heat are tied for the best team defense in this year’s postseason. Led by Anthony Davis, the Lakers have consistently shown that they are one of the best defenses in the league, and must continue playing as such to win this series. The Heat have a complex offense with lots of off ball movement and screens that try to get their shooters open. Therefore, it is imperative that Lakers fight through screens, specifically on Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro, who will make shots if given an inch of space.
Defensive rotations are also important this series. Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Goran Dragic are excellent at finishing around the rim, so help defense will be needed to get into driving lanes and force charges.
The Lakers are most dangerous when they generate live ball turnovers because it allows their defense to turn to offense. Being the best transition team in the league, it is imperative that the Lakers get steals and blocks to get the team out in the fastbreak. The team will look to Rondo, Caruso, and KCP to be scrappy on defense and generate turnovers.
Game 1: Wednesday, September 30 at 6pm PT (ABC)
Game 2: Friday, October 2 at 6pm PT (ABC)
Game 3: Sunday, October 4 at 4:30pm PT (ABC)
Game 4: Tuesday, October 6 at 6pm PT (ABC)
Game 5: Friday, October 9 at 6pm PT (ABC)
Game 6: Sunday, October 11 at 4:30pm PT (ABC)
Game 7: Tuesday, October 13 at 9pm PT (ABC)
The Lakers look to win the organization’s 17th championship starting Wednesday, September 30 at 6pm PT on ABC.