By Jackson Sparks, Sports Editor–
As the 2020 NBA Finals were set to begin in the NBA bubble at Disneyworld, the Los Angeles Lakers were viewed as a massive favorite to bring home their 18th NBA championship. The Western Conference one-seed Lakers handily defeated the Eastern Conference five-seed Miami Heat in game one and two of the empty arena Finals.
Behind a pair of 30-plus point performances by Anthony Davis, they defeated the Heat by double digits to take a 2-0 lead in the best of seven series. The writing was clearly on the wall for the Heat, as the NBA world was beginning to expect a clean sweep.
Jimmy Butler had other plans.
“I’m ready for this,” Butler told Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra. “Whatever you ask me to do, I can do.”
In game three, Butler posted a 40-point triple double with 11 rebounds and 13 assists. The highly animated guard Tyler Hero added a solid 17-point night as Butler’s sidekick. They won despite being without All-Star big man Bam Adebayo and starting guard Goran Dragic. The absent pair of key starters suffered injuries in game one of the series. Adebayo, who is dealing with a neck injury, is now listed as questionable for game four. Dragic is seemingly out for the series with a torn plantar fascia.
If Adebayo can make it back on the floor, Lebron James and company should not expect an easy path to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy. The Heat have been underdogs all season and all playoffs. In the Eastern Conference Playoffs, they defeated the four-seed Indiana Pacers, then the 2020 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks, before knocking out the star-studded Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Lakers winning the title may seem like density. The Lakers are one of American sports’ untouchable franchises, led by one of the best players to ever play the game, accompanied by the arguably best big man in basketball, but the Miami Heat are not going to back down from anyone.
Game four of the NBA Finals begins tonight, Oct. 6 at 9:00 p.m. EST.