While Vegas is favoring the Lakers to win the series with gargantuan -380 odds, I wouldn’t be so quick to count the Heat out just yet.
The fifth-seeded underdogs have been the epitome of a homegrown team, boasting a starting 5 that features a No. 14 draft pick in Bam Adebayo and undrafted player in Duncan Robinson.
I’m predicting the Lakers to continue their gentlemen’s sweep trend and take the Heat in five, while our staff has handpicked their predictions for the upcoming series.
Brad Sullivan: Lakers in 6
The Lakers are competing in their first finals in a decade and are likely to use the tragic death of Kobe Bryant as motivation to end that dry spell and honor his memory.
Of course, having the duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis will aid immeasurably in helping make the Lakers’ goal a reality. James’ nine previous trips to the finals top the Heat’s Andre Iguodala’s streak of five straight visits with the Golden State Warriors, with James playing top-level basketball right now.
The Lakers’ toughest task will be neutralizing the array of talent in the Heat backcourt. If that happens, it could be another 4-1 series win for Frank Vogel’s squad, but more likely, the Heat will take it to six games.
Ryan Ward: Heat in 6
However, the Miami Heat are the better team. Unlike the Lakers, the Heat don’t have to lean on superstars to be successful. Miami is a well-rounded team with roles players that I believe will prove to be the deciding factor in the NBA Finals.
Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson, Jae Crowder, Andre Iguodala and Gordon Dragic have rallied around their undisputed leader in Jimmy Butler. Miami has done the seemingly impossible and run the table in the Eastern Conference and now will have the odds against it once again, which is a situation it seems to thrive in during this postseason run.
Peter Dewey: Lakers in 6
The simple pick in the 2020 NBA Finals is the Los Angeles Lakers.
Why? Because they have LeBron James.
The Miami Heat have been fantastic all postseason (hence the 12-3 record) and deserve all the respect in the world. But when it comes down to it, relying on younger guys like Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro against a team led by James and Anthony Davis is a tall ask.
I think Miami’s team play and depth allows it to get this to six games, but as we saw in the Nuggets series, James can take over a game whenever he feels like it. The Lakers have the two best players in this series in James and Davis, and if they show up, it is unlikely Miami will be able to win more than a couple games.
Brad Ahn: Lakers in 5
If you’re expecting a LeBron-led meltdown a la 2011 against the Dallas Mavericks, look elsewhere. At age 35, there’s nobody as mentally strong as LeBron James, and come Finals time, there’s nobody that performs better in our league today.
In 2018, James put up 34.0 points, 10.0 assists and 8.5 rebounds per game against the Golden State Warriors while shooting 52.7 percent from the field. He’s played a total of 49 games on the league’s biggest stage.
The Lakers played the Heat twice in the regular season and came out victorious both times. From the eye test, you could tell that the Heat were just far outmatched when it came to star power.
Robert Marvi: Lakers in 6
The Purple and Gold have been gradually looking more and more like champions as the playoffs have progressed. The Miami Heat have put together one of the most impressive postseason runs in recent seasons, but they look like they’re overmatched against LeBron James and company.
After missing the playoffs in a disastrous 2018-19 season and getting swept in the NBA Finals the year before that, James seems to be on a mission to enhance his legacy by winning his fourth ring. Anthony Davis has answered his critics by playing consistently strong ball throughout the playoffs. Thanks to new head coach Frank Vogel, L.A. is dangerous on the defensive end and in transition.
The Heat, meanwhile, have habitually fallen behind by sizeable margins. They have the admirable quality of being able to come back from said margins to win, but that was against the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics. The Lakers are simply a different beast with more top-level talent than the Heat, or the Bucks and Celtics, for that matter.
Omar Guerrero: Lakers in 6
I was so tempted to pick Lakers in 5, but it’s hard to bet against the Heat, who have befuddled experts for three playoff rounds now. Miami is arguably the deepest and most disciplined team that the Lakers will face this postseason.
But as good as the Heat have been so far this postseason (second in assist-to-turnover ratio, third in net rating, fourth in offensive rating), they have not faced anything like the playoff-tested Lakers. The Heat have no one to clog the lane if Bam Adebayo gets into foul trouble, and I can see that happening as he tries to stop LeBron James and Anthony Davis from scoring.
Ultimately, it will come down to James and Davis, who are the two best players in this series. James is too smart and too experienced in the Finals, and Davis is too skilled and too hungry.
Justin Benjamin: Lakers in 6
The Miami Heat are on one of the most incredible runs in NBA history. They’ve cruised though the playoffs, impressively knocking out two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in five games. Jimmy Butler is finally receiving the credit he deserves, Bam Adebayo is showing the world he’s rising to the top of the food chain and Tyler Herro is showing flashes of a certain Heat legend. The rest of the Heat’s supportive cast has tremendous chemistry and shows up when it matters.
However, the Lakers have the best player in the series by far. James has been in as many NBA Finals as the entire Heat roster combined. In fact, he is facing one of his weakest Finals opponents. The Lakers’ supporting cast is loaded with experience and firepower. Davis will be a handful for the Heat’s frontcourt, as he’s been dominant alongside James throughout the playoffs.
Furthermore, there is so much more on the line for the Lakers. James can’t afford to lose in the NBA Finals for the sake of his legacy, the success of the Davis trade will be analyzed by a championship and the Lakers are playing their hearts out to honor the greatest player in Lakers history.
As for the Heat, they’ve already met — and exceeded — all their expectations this season. While Butler and the Heat won’t make it easy for the Lakers, they won’t be able to over the superstar production and meaningful purpose behind the Lakers.
Jonathan Sherman: Lakers in 6
Heading into the 2020 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers have proven to be far above the rest of the pack. After all, they both went an impressive 12-3 on their way to the championship round.
With that in mind, the two teams advanced to the finals in two very different ways. While the Heat depended on inspiring team basketball to lead them to victory, the Lakers were steadily led by their two All-NBA superstars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
If NBA history has taught us anything, it’s that more often than not the team with the biggest stars usually claims victory. A very real argument can be made that James and Davis are the two best players in the entire league.
On top of the Lakers’ superstar power, this team is as motivated as any fans have seen in recent years. James is dead set on cementing his legacy as one of if not the greatest player ever. Four rings look a lot better than three when it comes to that argument. As for Davis, he’s looking to shed the reputation of being a major talent without major accolades. He’ll look to dominate the series to make it clear that he can lead a team to the promised land.
On top of all that, the rest of the Lakers roster will certainly do all it can to honor the memory of franchise great Kobe Bryant, who tragically passed away earlier this year.
So, while the Heat are an admirable team with talented stars and role players, it seems quite likely that their Cinderella story will end at the hands of James, Davis and the rest of the Purple and Gold.