In the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers lost their first game of their series. They bucked that trend in the Western Conference Finals, and they’ll be hoping to keep it that way in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday, but the Miami Heat will obviously have different plans.
The Heat have played the role of giant killer throughout of playoffs, with their ultimate upset coming in the second round, when they beat Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in just five games. The Bucks finished with the best record in the NBA, and Antetokounmpo received the most first-place votes for the MVP award for the second consecutive year. The Heat went into the postseason as the No. 5 seed.
They’ll be going up against another No. 1 seed in the Lakers, but the shock factor with Miami is all but gone. They’re good, and everybody knows it, and if they don’t, they’re about to find out. The biggest question going into Game 1 is: If the Heat are good, are the Lakers great?
The Lakers will have the ability to play the two best players on the floor at all times, health permitting, but the Heat are a deep team, and they have the personnel to make LeBron James and Anthony Davis work. They also have a few guys that can get hot in a hurry, including, but not limited to, Tyler Herro, Goran Dragic and Duncan Robinson. This isn’t a series where perimeter defense will be optional, at least not for Los Angeles.
Game 1 should be looked at as a tone-setter. If James and Davis are going to dominate the series, we’ll know by Wednesday night. If the Lakers’ defense is too overwhelming for the Heat, we’ll know by Wednesday night.
And if the Heat are a bigger threat than anyone could have expected going into the season, well, we’ll find that out, too.
Notes and Updates
- Dion Waiters has been taken off of the Lakers’ injury report, which means he’ll be available to play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Waiters has missed the last eight games with a groin injury.
- Alex Caruso (sore right wrist), Anthony Davis (right heel contusion), Danny Green (volar plate injury, left ring finger) and LeBron James (sore right groin) are all probable to play. There are no significant rotation players on the Heat injury report.
- Some of our staff gave their series predictions and Finals MVP predictions. Our “Talk O’ Tuesday” podcast is picking the Lakers in six games.
The Lakers and Heat will tip-off at 6:00 p.m. PT on ABC. You can also sign up to watch the game on fuboTV here.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.