The Los Angeles Lakers begin their first NBA Finals since 2010 at 6 p.m. Wednesday against the Miami Heat, who defeated three higher-seeded opponents to reach their first finals since 2014.
The Heat advanced to their sixth finals in their 32-season history with a 125-113 victory over the third-seeded Boston Celtics Sunday. They won the Eastern Conference finals, four games to two.
Miami, seeded fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 44-29 record, held the 11th-best record in the league.
The Heat opened the playoffs by sweeping the fourth-seeded Indiana Pacers, then defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, who had the NBA’s best regular-season record, in five games.
The Heat has “had the underdog mentality this whole season,” Miami center Bam Adebayo said.
“When we get in these finals, anything could happen,” he added. “It’s a toss-up. Just going out and do what we’ve been doing, preparing and looking in and just keep building.”
The Lakers, though, are heavily favored, and their leader is superstar LeBron James. He said Tuesday that he feels “as locked in as I’ve ever been in my career.”
They earned their NBA-record 32nd finals appearance with a 117-107 victory over the Denver Nuggets Saturday to easily take the Western Conference finals, four games to one. If they win a 17th championship, they will tie the Boston Celtics for most NBA Finals wins.
The Lakers were the top seed in the Western Conference with a 52-19 record, the league’s third-best best behind Milwaukee (56-17) and the Toronto Raptors (53-19).
The Lakers won both games against Miami during the regular season. They prevailed 95-80 Nov. 8 at Staples Center and 113-110 Dec. 13 in Miami.
The series will match Laker star LeBron James against the team he played for from 2010-14. One player on the Miami roster was a teammate of James, 40-year-old forward Udonis Haslem, who has not appeared in the 2020 playoffs.
Erik Spoelstra, who coached James when he played for the Heat, still leads the team. Former Laker coach Pat Riley, the Heat’s team president when James played in Miami, also remains.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will be played Friday.
The entire NBA postseason is being played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida due to the coronavirus pandemic.
– City News Service
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: