Sep 29, 2020
Sep 29, 2020

Who will be 2020 NBA champions? The return of the NBA

The ‘bubble’ impact

Miami Heat – Outsiders to World Champions?

Are the Los Angeles Lakers unstoppable?

Who will be 2020 NBA champions? The return of the NBA

It all comes down to this. Heat vs. Lakers. East vs. West. Which team will write their names in the history books as the first ever NBA Champions of the ‘bubble’. With so much at stake and so many unexpected twists and turns so far – is this Championship series going to offer one last big surprise? Read on to inform your NBA betting predictions.

The ‘bubble’ impact

When the idea of an NBA ‘bubble’ was first proposed, few would have predicted the impact and surprises it would have on the NBA playoffs.

Potentially acting as the great equaliser, the absence of fans and travel meant that teams would have to rely on their basketball ability alone to see them move through the rounds, rather than a favourable seed, hostile environment, or travel fatigue having the impact it usually does in a series.

We saw many shocks during the playoffs, with the Clippers and Bucks severely underwhelming by both losing in their respective conference semi-finals after being tipped for NBA glory, whilst teams like the Nuggets and finalists Miami Heat performing above expectations.

There are many ifs and maybes that can be drawn from any NBA playoff campaign, but with the bubble, this season has divided opinion amongst senior analysts.

Would the Nuggets have come back from 3-1 down twice under normal circumstances? Would the Bucks have made the Eastern conference final? However, the most intriguing debate is would the Heat be in the NBA final?

Outsiders to World Champions?

Coming in as outsiders, with odds of 61.000* to win the NBA championship before the start of the NBA season, there’s no doubt the Miami Heat (now 3.790*) have defied and surpassed all expectations to find themselves as Eastern Conference champions, and with a chance to claim their fourth NBA title.

Despite the acquisition of Jimmy Butler being labelled as smart business by some, few would have predicted the impact he would have on his new team. Leading the Heat as the talisman and focal point whilst also playing a big role in guiding young stars Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and Duncan Robinson - Butler has performed at an All-Star level.

Butler has dealt with critics doubting him his whole career, since entering the league as a No.30 draft pick in 2011. Butler would go onto make four straight All-Star teams as well as winning the Most Improved Player Award in 2015. Fast forward five years later and he finds himself in the NBA finals surrounded by a mix of youth and experience.

Flanked by the experienced pair of three-time NBA Champion Andre Iguodala and 2018 All-Star Gordan Dragic, as well as the dynamic young trio mentioned previously – the Heat seem to have found the perfect chemistry of tough defence and explosive offence.

Dismantling the No.1 Eastern seed Milwaukee Bucks 4-1 in the Eastern Conference semi-final was the biggest signal of intent from the 5th seeded Heat, putting the league on notice – not to mention Bam Adebayo’s now iconic block on Jason Tatum in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final.

However, for me it’s the Game 6 Eastern Conference clinching win against the Celtics that perfectly epitomised what the Heat are about. Adebayo’s double-double of 14 rebounds and a career-high 32 points was complimented by Butler’s 22 point haul.

Robinson and Herro chipped in with 15 and 19 points respectively, with Robinson boasting the second highest contested three-point shooting percentage in the bubble, after Jamal Murray. Add to all of that with Dragic and Iguodala both contributing double figure scoring returns and the Heat look to be in great shape and have a fighting chance against the might of the Lakers.

Although some say, this series is already a full gone conclusion.

Are the Lakers unstoppable?

Make no mistakes, the Lakers (1.290*) are expected to win this series. In the words of famous ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith “There’s no way in hell they {Miami Heat} are supposed to beat Lebron James and Anthony Davis.”

Likened to the ‘Monstars’ from classic basketball film ‘Space Jam’ due to their sheer dominance, power and scoring ability – Davis and James are the NBA’s most feared duo heading into the Championship series.

There’s not much else to say that hasn’t already been written about LeBron James, one of the greatest players in NBA history and arguably the best player in the world today. The 35-year-old refuses to show any signs of decline, with his triple-double in the Western Conference clinching Game 5 against the Nuggests demonstrating the force that is LBJ.

This series will mean a lot to James for numerous reasons: The chance to clinch a fourth NBA ring to boost his standings in the ‘GOAT’ debates that continue to rage to this day; playing against a team that he won two NBA titles with; proving the doubters who didn’t vote him MVP; and perhaps most importantly, trying to honour the legacy of the late Kobe Bryant by delivering a Championship to Los Angeles for the 17th time.

Lebron James couldn’t be more motivated heading into this series. However, the Lakers wouldn’t be where they are today - their first NBA finals for ten years - had Davis not joined the roster in the summer.

Davis, like Lebron, can do it all. Low and high post scoring, perimeter and rim defending, assisting, and three-point buzzer beaters – Davis is well on the way to becoming one of the best two-way players in NBA history, with a maiden NBA title to cement his legacy.

The Lakers’ run to the finals was almost as smooth as it gets, defeating the Trail Blazers, Rockets and Nuggests in five games.  They are, however, slightly reliant on the duo of James and Davis, with 2008 NBA champion Rajon Rondo being the only player other than James and Davis to score more than 20 points in the 15 playoff games.

It’s arguable that the Lakers’ role-players Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Danny Green, Markieff Morris, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope aren’t as good as the Heats’ but when you have the difference-makers in James and Davis – it’s been a rarity that other Lakers’ players have been needed to make the difference.

Barring injury to Davis and James, the Lakers look like a step too far for this spirited Heat side, but as the ‘bubble’ has shown – nothing is guaranteed in today’s version of the NBA.

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