The Miami Heat earned major plaudits for beating the Boston Celtics to reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014, but the majority of questions suggest it’s a matter of when and not if they lose to the LA Lakers.
LeBron James has made it back to basketball’s biggest stage in his second season with the Lakers, who are major front-runners to lift this year’s crown after a seven-round hiatus from the play-offs.
In a battle of east coast versus west, the Lakers lead as hard-to-miss -358 favorites with Borgata, while New Jersey bettors can back the Heat at +300 to pull off a historic upset.
LeBron will take on his old team—with whom he won two of his three NBA Championships—in this year’s Finals, which are set to get underway Wednesday. Popular opinion suggests the Lakers are well supported to seal the series within five, but there’s value to be had in the decider running shorter than that.
Prediction: Lakers to win series 4-0
Borgata offers a price of +230 that the Finals will be finished in five games, +225 for there to be six and +275 for there to be seven matches. However, a four-game clean sweep yields the most substantial odds at +400, which is within the remit of this Lakers team if Frank Vogel’s side are at their best over the next week.
The Lakers have swept the Heat in each of the past two regular seasons—two wins from two meetings in each—though this will be their first time meeting in the play-offs. A new-look force has taken shape in Miami since James left their lineup in 2014, but there’s a feeling this Lakers team has peaked just ahead of their crowning moment, albeit in Florida.
One can debate regarding the strength of each respective conference, but these two teams may be closer to level pegging than many may suggest in the post-season, per The Athletic’s Ryan Cole:
Nonetheless, the likes of Jae Crowder, Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler could find themselves outmatched compared to the Lakers’ considerable depth. There have been only nine one-sided NBA Finals series since they began in 1947, and LeBron was on the receiving end in two of the three that have taken place this millennium (2007, 2013).
This may be the year the 35-year-old finally gets the chance to dish out a 4-0 flattening of his own. It wouldn’t be unrealistic to suggest Vogel’s side beat the Heat in every area, it’s merely a matter of ensuring the favorites are up to sustaining the challenge mentally for a final series.
The Lakers’ 4-1 Western Conference Finals win over the Denver Nuggets wasn’t far off unanswered territory, and the motivation of a title may be enough to improve their performance that extra ounce.
2020 NBA Finals Outright Odds
LA Lakers: -358
Miami Heat: +300