The NBA Finals begins on Wednesday in a series involving two respective leaders of their organizations that played vital roles in the storied history of the other franchise. The Lakers’ LeBron James won his first NBA championship as a member of the Miami Heat while Pat Riley won four championships as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers before eventually becoming the President of the Heat organization.
Los Angeles takes the court for the first time since Saturday when they eliminated Denver in five games in the Western Conference Finals with their 117-107 victory. The Lakers have a 12-3 record in the postseason with a Net Rating of +7.7 points per 100 possessions which is the top mark in the playoffs.
Anthony Davis led the way for Los Angeles against the Nuggets by averaging 31.2 points per game on 54.2% shooting from the field. LeBron James was just shy of averaging 27 PPG against Denver. While this will be the first NBA Finals appearance for Davis, James will be looking for his fourth NBA championship. He has averaged 28.2 PPG in his ten NBA Finals appearances along with averaging 10.0 rebounds-per-game, 7.7 assists-per-game, and 1.8 steals-per-game.
Miami defeated Boston in six games to win the Eastern Conference Finals by winning Game 6 of that series by a 125-113 score as a 3-point underdog on Sunday. The Heat also have a 12-3 record in the postseason with their Net Rating of +4.5 points per 100 possessions being the third-best mark in the playoffs.
Miami made only 32.3% of their shots from 3-point land against the Celtics after making 38.0% of their 3-pointers in the previous two playoff rounds. This is an area where the Lakers have been vulnerable as their postseason opponents have made 36.2% of their 3-pointers which is just 9th best in the playoffs. However, LA limited their opponents to attempting 40.1% of their shots from the 3-point line, which was the 4th lowest mark of playoff teams.
The Lakers have averaged 23.3 transition points per game in the postseason, which leads all playoff teams. 18.5% of Los Angeles’ possessions in the postseason have come from transition which is the 2nd highest rate in the playoffs. Miami has allowed their playoff opponents to average 1.17 points per possession in transition, which is the 3rd highest mark for playoff teams.
The Lakers won both meetings between these two teams during the regular season with their 95-80 victory on November 8th followed up by a 113-110 win on December 13th.
Tyler Herro averaged only 7.0 PPG in those two games on 25% shooting from the field and an 18.2% clip from behind the arc. Duncan Robinson averaged just 6.5 PPG on 26.7% shooting while making only 30.8% of his 3-pointers. Yet both players have improved significantly since those games and they have the opportunity to be X-Factors for the Heat in this seven-game series. Herro has scored 16.5 PPG in the playoffs while adding 5.5 RPG and 3.9 APG and shooting 37.8% from the 3-point line. Robinson has added 11.3 PPG in the postseason while making 40% of his 3-pointers. BookMaker
has the Lakers as a 4.5-point favorite with the total set at 217.5. ABC has the telecast which begins at 9 PM ET.