It took a while, but it’s here. Following perhaps the most tumultuous season in NBA history, the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat will face off Wednesday night in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, and the LWOS staff is ready to make some predictions.
There were some bumps in the road, but LeBron James and the Lakers are back to the Finals. They had a stretch of poor play at the beginning of bubble play, but they silenced critics with a dominant run through the Western Conference. Entering the Finals, the Lakers are widely seen as the overwhelming favorites.
Meanwhile, the Miami Heat are in a place few could have predicted before this season. Not only did they upset two championship favorites in the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics, but they did so in dominant fashion. They had a measly three losses in three rounds of playoff play, and they look to be a formidable challenger to the Lakers. With their insane depth and knockdown shooting, it’s not a foregone conclusion that the Lakers easily win this series.
Will the Lakers win their seventeenth championship, putting them in a two-way tie with the Celtics for the most franchise championships? Or will the Miami Heat complete a run for the ages with their third consecutive upset? Our Last Word on Pro Basketball Staff are certainly leaning towards the former, but there’s definitely some variability. Here are our predictions for the NBA Finals:
NBA Finals Predictions
Chase Gage: Lakers in 6 | Finals MVP: LeBron James
The Heat have the heart, passion, and grit to steal a couple of games and make it a series. However, LeBron James and Anthony Davis are just too good to lose this series. James has shown that he can still elevate his game to ridiculous levels. Davis has never been on a stage like this, but he definitely has the talent to show out. He benefits from not having to carry the whole load.
However, Miami has a deeper team. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are All-Star level talents. Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, and Goran Dragic can all explode at any moment. The Heat have earned their way here. It’s no fluke.
I just don’t see them taking down the likes of LeBron and his Lakers. LA is a team on a mission. From Kobe to the playoff and finals drought, to LeBron having a shot at another ring, I think it’s just too much for the Heat to overcome.
Avinash Chauhan: Lakers in 7 | Finals MVP: LeBron James
The Lakers are the overwhelming favorites, and deservedly so, but I don’t completely understand the Heat slander. They’ve already taken down a team led by two stars in the Bucks, and their chemistry is far better than the Lakers. The Lakers haven’t faced anyone on defense like Bam Adebayo, who could make life difficult on Anthony Davis.
However, the Lakers still have LeBron James, and that’s gonna be the difference for me. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Heat beat the Lakers, but it’s hard for me to bet against LeBron. The Lakers have the narrative and the best two players in the series, but the Heat have the chemistry and the depth. My predictions are that the Lakers win a very close series, and LeBron wins his fourth NBA Finals MVP.
Loreal Nix: Heat in 6 | Finals MVP: Bam Adebayo
Since the beginning of the season, the Miami Heat have worked to get the team and leadership that they desired, and they’ve simultaneously made improvements throughout the season. They acquired a bonafide leader in Jimmy Butler, whose blue-collar mentality serves well to help mold the other players into the same mentality. On top of that, they acquired Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala, two wings that have helped to amp up the defense. All in all, the Miami Heat have transformed into a team where everyone has a significant role within their success. This is especially applicable to Bam Adebayo, whose emergence as one of the best point-centers in the league will have a major impact on this Finals matchup.
Zach Kircher: Lakers in 4 | Finals MVP: LeBron James
The Lakers have the 2 best players on the floor and are super locked in. Miami will throw some junk defenses at them but the playmaking of Rondo and James will be the difference. Davis should kill that zone at the foul line. The Finals MVP will be LeBron James, as he will just do more all-around than Davis and average near a triple-double.
Dylan Guest: Lakers in 6 | Finals MVP: LeBron James
I think the Heat are very well balanced and will give the Lakers their hardest time in the playoffs so far. However, at the end of the day, the Lakers have LeBron James and Anthony Davis. I also think it’s huge for them that role players like Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard have been stepping up lately. I think LeBron wins finals MVP because he’s shown throughout the playoffs that he’s still a 25+ point triple-double machine, and he knows that a big part of his legacy is on the line here.
David Knight: Lakers in 6 | Finals MVP: LeBron James
At the end of the day, the Heat really don’t have a matchup for LeBron James. I think he’ll need to be in attack mode against the zone, and that will mean he puts up big numbers.
Kunning Chen: Lakers in 6 | Finals MVP: LeBron James
The Lakers’ defense will be the main key for them to win the finals. Their defense has been nothing short of stellar in these playoffs. If the Lakers win the finals, the finals MVP award will come down to either LeBron or Davis. But LeBron will likely have a bigger impact on the game than Davis, so I’ll give him the edge here.
Matt Waldman: Lakers in 6 | Finals MVP: LeBron James
Overall, the Lakers are more experienced and have a better overall roster. LeBron wins MVP because he goes off as he did against the Denver Nuggets in the last game of the Western Conference Finals.
Adam Taylor McKillop: Lakers in 5 | Finals MVP: LeBron James
In all honesty, I’m a huge LeBron James fan. I’ll root for whatever team he’s one, and always hopeful he’s en route to another NBA Championship. That being said, this pick is easy for me. This is the most rested, focused, and determined James we’ve seen since the 2016 championship run. That’s a huge plus for the Lakers. Miami’s zone defense has given teams fits, especially the better-shooting Boston Celtics last round. However, I think James and Anthony Davis can exploit that zone with inside scoring and cuts to the basket. The Davis-James pick and roll game is virtually unstoppable. It’s also very possible that hammering the paint gets Bam Adebayo in early foul trouble, which is a huge concern for Miami. The Heat will steal a game with their outside threats, but with a chance to honor the late-Kobe Bryant on the line, this series is all Lakers.
Nicolette Rojo: Lakers in 7 | Finals MVP: LeBron James
While the Lakers are more experienced, Miami is playing excellent team ball and Spoelstra knows LeBron better than anyone else. Plus, Miami’s three-point shooting will be tough as well, since they have elite snipers like Robinson, Herro, and Jae Crowder. Andre Iguodala will be a big factor as well, but the Lakers have AD and Lebron, a deadly duo. They’ll edge over the Heat in a close series.
Raheem Bashir: Lakers in 7 | Finals MVP: LeBron James
The Miami Heat are a deeper team than the Lakers, which is why they will keep it competitive in the NBA Finals. However, the Los Angeles Lakers have two superstars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Davis has more points per game than James in the playoffs, but James has more assists and rebounds in the playoffs. As a result, my predictions are that the Lakers will win a close series, and the NBA Finals MVP is going to be LeBron James.
David Ward: Lakers in 7 | Finals MVP: LeBron James
It’ll be a hard-fought series as Miami actually has a team that can guard both LeBron and Davis. From Jae Crowder to Jimmy Butler, to Andre Iguodala, there are plenty of options for Miami to slow down James. Adebayo vs Davis may be the most intriguing matchup of the series. Big games from players like Dragic and Herro will push the series to 7 games, but ultimately LeBron will be LeBron, and the Lakers will prevail.
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