It has been one of the craziest NBA seasons ever, and now we have finally reached the NBA Finals almost a full year after this 2019-20 campaign officially began. Game 1 of the 2020 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat is on Wednesday night.
It’s no surprise the Lakers made it here, as they were the best team in the Western Conference during the regular season. Meanwhile, the Heat are the first fifth seed to ever make the NBA Finals.
Both teams have dominated in the playoffs up to this point. Los Angeles won three straight playoff series without going past Game 5. Miami, meanwhile, is also 12-3 this postseason, which includes a seven-game winning streak to open up the playoffs.
With so much at stake, here are three bold predictions for the 2020 NBA Finals.
1. Anthony Davis wins Finals MVP
Most headlines surrounding the Lakers involve LeBron James. Deservedly so, as James makes his 10th Finals appearance in his 17th NBA season. However, the Lakers have another superstar on their team in Anthony Davis who’s making his first Finals appearance.
Davis has been great throughout these playoffs. In 15 playoff games, Davis is averaging 28.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists while playing terrific defense. This includes a 43-point game versus the Portland Trail Blazers in Round 1 and a game-winner versus the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.
Davis will be predominantly matched up with Heat star Bam Adebayo, who was All-Defensive Second Team this year and just finished dominating the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite Adebayo’s presence, Davis still put up 29.5 points per game in two games versus the Heat this season, which were both Lakers wins.
In order to win Finals MVP, Davis will have to outperform LeBron. Davis will do so by scoring over 30 points per game and nabbing over 10 rebounds per contest.
2. Series goes at least six games
Because the Lakers possess more star power, they are the clear favorite to win these NBA Finals. The Heat have a couple of stars in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, but they obviously aren’t on the level of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. While Miami has an excellent supporting cast, some of the guys like Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson are inexperienced, and star power often wins out anyway.
Butler and the Heat don’t really view themselves as underdogs. But given the circumstances, they clearly are and could be ripe for a sweep or another five-game Lakers win. Nonetheless, the Heat are just the team to push the Lakers to the brink of elimination in the Finals.
First, Miami has multiple players who can lead them in scoring on any given night. In fact, Goran Dragic was the only player who led the Heat in scoring more than once in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Miami also has a coaching advantage, with Erik Spoelstra over Frank Vogel. While Spoelstra is in his fifth Finals, Vogel is just in his first. Also, the Heat’s well-defined culture of toughness will create a more physical series than the Lakers had to deal with in the Western Conference.
Expect the Heat to extend this series to at least a Game 6 thanks to these factors, as well as their ability to play in the clutch.
3. Kyle Kuzma is the X-factor
While we know the NBA is about superstars, role players performing at a high level is still important in the NBA Finals. The Lakers haven’t really had a consistent third option all season. Players like Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have performed well in certain games in these playoffs, but not a whole series.
Kyle Kuzma was viewed as the Lakers’ third option coming into the season, but he hasn’t been that in these playoffs. Kuzma is only putting up 10.5 points per game in the postseason, which is more than two points below his regular-season average.
Now in the NBA Finals, Kuzma will prove that the Lakers were right not to involve him in the trade that brought Anthony Davis last offseason. Kuzma will go for 15 points per game off the bench in these Finals and be the X-factor in a Lakers championship.