The Los Angeles Lakers are up 2-0 in the series. It seems as if the Miami Heat have finally run out of gas after reaching their peak abilities, as two of their three best players are ruled out due to injury, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic.
The story-lines were pure, but the competitive expectations looked like it wouldn’t live up to the hype. But well, that was before Jimmy Butler happened. Putting up a stat-line of 40 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds against two of the most premier athletes in the NBA, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, leading Miami to a win basically was the start of an incredible battle.
Although Miami ended up losing in 6 games, as the Lakers got their 17th franchise championship while LeBron secured his 4th, the battle that Miami put up basically foreshadowed the way that a Miami Heat team plays when the headliners are aligned, in Butler, Erik Spoelstra, and Pat Riley.
Now, after the Lakers beat a depleted Heat team in the NBA Finals, the script will be flipped on Thursday night. Los Angeles will be without James and Davis once again, as Miami’s finally hitting strides in the health department. This results in Miami being the favorite to win the game, according to the NBA odds at Sports Betting Dime. In a bundled up Eastern Conference, these are the type of games that Miami is aware are crucial to have a shot at the fourth seed.
These two teams may get thrown up against each other in many conversations, but they really aren’t all that different. As teams like the Utah Jazz are grasping the spot light in the West, the Brooklyn Nets are doing so in the East, leaving both the Lakers and Heat in middle tier areas, awaiting that first round match-up before truly turning it on.
Both teams with huge defensive strides, interchanging players with different injuries thrown their way, and of course, much respected franchises who were lucky enough to change up their rosters a bit to complete this second half run.
All of these comparisons being shown just comes right back to the overarching theme: facing adversity. It may be looked at as league wide ordeal, but it’s no surprise that these two teams have had more ups and downs than anybody. Beginning with the immediate turnaround after the Finals, there’s been constant obstacles being thrown their way, and that may mean they’re more prepared for what comes next.
Obviously nobody wants to face a James and Davis led Lakers team in a 7 game series, but there also aren’t many teams that want to face a gritty Miami Heat team with a defensive identity and tons of weapons.
This Thursday night match-up between these two teams will look a lot different than it did a couple months ago, and that basically sums up the entire situation that they’ve both endured. And as they both continue to claw their way back up the standings, there’s a chance an unexpected Finals rematch could occur if things fall into place for each ball club.