With the Miami Heat defeating the Boston Celtics in six games of the Eastern Conference Finals, they are now playing the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2020 NBA Finals.
While it’s not an opponent that was expected for the Lakers, the Heat absolutely cannot be taken lightly. Miami, albeit in more surprising fashion, has been just as dominant as L.A. throughout the postseason.
While every Western and Eastern Conference teams meet twice during the course of a regular season, hopefully providing some insight for the Finals, L.A. and Miami’s head-to-head matchups don’t give much at all.
Both games between the two teams came within the first 25 games of the season, with rosters changing significantly since then. This is especially true of the Heat, who completed an overhaul at the trade deadline.
However, we can still dissect those two meetings and find out some minor things about how the Heat match up with the Lakers in a seven-game series.
Heat (6-3) @ Lakers (7-1), Nov. 8, 2019
In the Lakers’ eighth game of the season, they took on the Heat, who were surprising many with a hot start. At the time, Miami sported a starting lineup of Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Meyers Leonard and Bam Adebayo.
The Lakers — who still had Avery Bradley at the time — absolutely swarmed the Heat defensively in one of their best performances of the season on that end of the floor.
Anthony Davis began his early campaign for Defensive Player of the Year with three blocks and two steals, dominating Adebayo, Leonard and Kelly Olynyk. The Heat shot an abysmal 35% from the field and 17.1% from three, with their leading scorer — Butler — getting 22 points on 7-of-16 shooting.
Davis and LeBron James combined for 51 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists on an excellent 21-of-36 shooting. This led to a rather easy 95-80 win.
Lakers (23-3) @ Heat (18-7), Dec. 13, 2019
Both teams continued to play incredible basketball in the month between the two meetings. The Heat went into the December game with the exact same starting lineup, as they had not yet made their blockbuster deal at the deadline.
Meanwhile, the Lakers were experimenting with the starting lineup, putting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in over Bradley, which of course mirrors what they have today.
The second meeting between L.A. and Miami took on a much different identity, with offense leading the way instead of defense. Butler still led the way for the Heat with 23 points, but had three other players in double figures, compared to just one other player in the matchup at Staples Center.
Davis and James were even more dominant, combining for 61 points, 19 rebounds and 13 assists, while shooting 8-of-17 from three-point range.
While Game 1 was a 15-point blowout, this result was far closer. The Lakers won 113-110 to sweep the season series, 2-0.
The takeaways from these games can’t be too detailed, as the Heat traded away Justise Winslow, James Johnson, and Dion Waiters — none of whom appeared in either matchup due to injury — for Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, and Solomon Hill.
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