The NBA Finals are set, and for the first time in NBA history, the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat will play a seven-game series for the right to host the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the season.
According to stats.nba.com, this is the first time in NBA history that the two teams playing in the NBA Finals didn’t quality for the playoffs in the previous season. The Heat and Lakers both finished 10th in the 2018-19 season.
The Lakers won their regular season series with the Heat 2-0, but Miami’s roster has drastically changed since the last time these two teams played in December. For context, Kendrick Nunn and Meyers Leonard started for the Heat each time the Lakers played them in the regular season.
Additionally, the Heat have grown a lot since the start of the season, and their players have notably improved as a result of their improved synergy on the court. Bam Adebayo is the prime example, but we’ve also seen Jae Crowder and Tyler Herro breakout in the bubble.
The Lakers are going to be tested in a way they haven’t this postseason, which is saying something because the Denver Nuggets were excellent. Here is the full NBA Finals schedule:
Game 1: Wednesday, Sep. 30 at 6 p.m. on ABC
Game 2: Friday, Oct. 2 at 6 p.m. on ABC
Game 3: Sunday, Oct. 4 at 4:30 p.m. on ABC
Game 4: Tuesday, Oct. at 6 p.m. on ABC
Game 5 (if necessary): Friday, Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. on ABC
Game 6 (if necessary): Sunday, Oct. 11 on ABC
Game 7 (if necessary): Tuesday, Oct. 13 on ABC
It should go without saying, but there are a few ties between the Lakers and Heat — chief among them: the Heat and LeBron James. James played for the Heat for four seasons from 2010 to 2014. During that time, James led the Heat to four NBA Finals and won two championships with them. He also won two Finals MVPs with the Heat.
However, there’s also the tie between Pat Riley and the Lakers. Riley, the president of the Heat, was the head coach of the Lakers from 1981 to 1990. He most famously coached the Showtime Lakers team led by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Lakers won three championships with Riley at the helm.
James and Riley had a good working relationship while they were both in Miami, but their relationship soured when James left the Heat to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014. James might not have an ill-will towards the Heat organization, or the city of Miami, but there’s just enough there for him to put together something we’ve only seen a few times in his career: a LeBron James revenge series.
Add the appeal of an Anthony Davis and Adebayo matchup, and it should be a memorable series. Let’s just hope it’s memorable for the right reasons for the Lakers.