Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
October 24, 2020

The Los Angeles Lakers come out on top in an NBA season like no other

By ELISE STANLEY | October 15, 2020

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The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game Six of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals to win the NBA championship. This triumph comes during a season that has been dramatically impacted by the fourth month COVID-19 interruption and the death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in January.

This championship gives the Lakers their 17th title, tying them with the Boston Celtics for the most wins by an NBA team. The win comes one game later than many fans expected as the Heat edged out the Lakers 111-108 in Game Five. 

Jimmy Butler, Miami's fearless leader, fought valiantly with a 40-point triple-double in a Game Three win for the Heat and a 35-point triple-double in a Game Five win. He was finally contained, finishing with only 12 points Sunday.

The Finals victory also marks LeBron James’ fourth NBA championship win and his first with the Lakers since signing with the team in July of 2018. LeBron James was a key reason for the Lakers deft defeat of the Heat as he registered a triple-double — 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists — on Sunday night.

The Lakers decided to go with a smaller and quicker lineup, replacing center Dwight Howard with guard Alex Caruso in the starting lineup. This change sparked a defensive onslaught that set the tone from the beginning of the game. The defense generated turnovers and was more effective at protecting the rim. 

The defensive focus and intensity for both teams were in full effect as neither had much scoring success, but the Lakers held an advantage due to transition opportunities. Goran Dragic made his first appearance since Game One but could not serve as the spark plug the Heat desperately needed. Instead, the Lakers offense, led early by Rajon Rondo and Anthony Davis, put the Lakers up 28-20 by turning defense into offense.

Rondo’s strong play offensively carried over into the start of the second quarter, driving to the rim for his third layup and stepping into a three to extend L.A.’s lead to 12 points. Meanwhile, LeBron put pressure on the rim and attacked the basket, which drew fouls that kept Miami’s defense from finding its rhythm. 

Despite some questionable calls by the refs, Davis’ rim protection stifled the Heat’s ability to score in the paint and allowed the Lakers to keep a lead. The defense continued to fuel the offense, giving the Lakers momentum, which allowed them to leave the court at the half up 64-36. This 28-point lead at the half was the second largest in all NBA Finals history — just below the 30-point lead the Celtics had on the Lakers in Game One of the 1985 Finals. 

The Lakers continued to perform on the defensive end at the top of the third, causing the Heat to settle for contested shots in the midrange area. Bam Adebayo tried to swing momentum in the Heat's favor after drawing Davis’ fourth foul, but the Lakers still led the game with a comfortable 27-point lead.

Although the Lakers were far ahead, they continued to execute plays at a high level. The Lakers’ consistency resulted in them heading into the final quarter up 87-58. 

L.A.’s defensive focus slipped in the fourth quarter as Adebayo and Miami capitalized with a fast 11-3 run, which forced a timeout from L.A.’s head coach, Frank Vogel. However Davis was able to settle the team back down with a tip-in and free throws. Even with the final push for a comeback, the Heat could not come out on top in Game Six.

Now with the longest season in NBA history officially at an end, the Orlando “bubble” proved to be an overwhelming success with no new cases in the playoffs.

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