Thoughts on the Lakers Going to the 2020 NBA Finals, and Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals
September 26th, 2020
by Alan Lu
The Los Angeles Lakers are going to the 2020 NBA Finals. That said, hats off to the Denver Nuggets for a terrific season, and for being a tremendously fun team to watch in the bubble. Many people, myself included, thought that the two Los Angeles teams would’ve met in the playoffs, and let’s be honest, the playoffs would’ve been pretty boring and entirely too predictable if that happened.
The Los Angeles Clippers had been resting their starters for most of the regular season, and they held some of their star players out on TNT game nights, especially early on in the season, which angered some people in the basketball community, but the line of thinking was that maybe they were saving their best for the playoffs. Apparently not, I guess. Anyways, I’m sure Denver busted up plenty of people’s brackets if they were participating in the NBA playoff bracket challenge, and while they were never expected to win the title, they became a fun underdog team to root for.
The Denver Nuggets didn’t go down without a fight. Down as many as 15 early in the third quarter, it was thought that the Los Angeles Lakers would cruise to an easy Game 5 win, but suddenly Denver came roaring back in the third. With a scoring onslaught from Jerami Grant and Paul Millsap, with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray contributing to score in this time span, the Denver Nuggets managed to tie the game late in the third quarter, but then Anthony Davis made a big-time, 26-foot three-point shot to put the Lakers up three at the end of the 3rd quarter, and the Lakers held onto the lead for good this time.
In the 4th quarter, it was all Lakers from there on out. LeBron and AD were just too good, and too legendary, and there was no stopping them. LeBron James made all kinds of shots in the fourth. He made a slew of jumpers, he made great passes, he scored on strong drives to the rim, he would barrel through defenders as they would bounce off of him, and he also drew plenty of free throws.
Plus, Anthony Davis made big-time shots, as he really excelled as a scorer from all over the floor, and he and Dwight Howard defended the paint really well, as they made it tough for Denver to get easy shots in the lane. The Lakers made terrific moves by trading for Anthony Davis and by signing Dwight Howard in the offseason, as they also got Dwight Howard, a former multi-All-Star, on a veterans’ minimum deal. Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso continued to play well, as they moved the ball, defended well, and made shots efficiently. Danny Green also made some timely threes for his team.
On Denver’s end, it seemed as if they just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter, and could not muster the energy to pull off another upset. Nikola Jokic was in foul trouble for most of the night, Jamal Murray injured his leg, and he took some hard hits defensively that kind of made it tough to maintain his high energy level. On the flip side, Denver did have a big run in the third quarter. They played some zone defense and Jerami Grant and Paul Millsap made key buckets, but they lost all momentum when Anthony Davis made a three late in the third to get the Lakers a late lead at the end of that quarter.
The Lakers did a really good job of closing out the series to win in 5 games in the Western Conference Finals, and as they have 2 of the best players in the game, they look to be the odds-on favorite to win the title this year. As for the Denver Nuggets, they should hold their heads high, as they had a terrific postseason run. They pulled off an upset for the ages in ousting the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2nd round, and they had an opportunity to play against arguably the greatest player of this generation in LeBron James. On top of that, the Nuggets also have two solid rookies in Michael Porter Jr. and Bol Bol that could end up going on to have very good careers in the NBA. The Denver Nuggets have a very bright future ahead of them, and they should be excited for the future.
In Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics managed to stave off elimination to force a Game 6. It appeared at times as if Miami would close out the series and Duncan Robinson shot the ball really well in the first half, but with strong play from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who did a terrific job of shooting and scoring the basketball, and solid defensive play from Daniel Theis, who really excelled at blocking shots and played stellar interior defense, the Celtics were able to stay alive in the playoffs and prolong the series. Boston was able to pull Bam Adebayo away from the basket and occupied him, then they ran some action on the weak side to free up some of the other players for easy opportunities on offense. The Celtics had an easier time to generate offense, which allowed them to pull away at the end.
Boston also did a much better job of staying attached to Tyler Herro, and they seemed to be more cohesive and in sync defensively as a whole. They also made it tougher for Jimmy Butler and Bam to get going, and they made sure to not allow any easy buckets at the rim. From how the series has played, Miami may be favored to win Game 6, but if Boston can make the necessary adjustments like they did in Game 5 and play cohesively as a team, they could surprise people and potentially make this series a lot longer than people may expect it to be.