An Old Dog Learns New Tricks: The Lakers’ Path to the NBA Finals

The Los Angeles Lakers are on the court celebrating their close-out win against the Denver Nuggets as they now are the Western Conference champions. The Lakers are led by Lebron James, who has been to the finals nine out ten times this decade, and Anthony Davis, who is going to appear in his first ever NBA finals. Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

The NBA playoffs this year have truly been unique to see, especially with COVID-19 forcing the NBA season to be momentarily postponed until late July. The key teams that have made the headlines during the NBA “Bubble” playoffs are the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat. 

Out of the Western Conference, there is the Los Angeles Lakers as the first seed, finishing with a regular season record of 52-19. Led by superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, they look to bring the Lakers franchise their 17th championship. The Western Conference matchup was the Lakers against the Denver Nuggets, who did something that shocked us all.

When down 3-1 facing elimination in the first round facing the Utah Jazz, they were counted out. The Nuggets, led by players Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, were truly making their mark in the first round to stave off elimination. The key contributor to the comeback was Murray, who had averaged 31.6 points per game on 55% field goals.. Jokic had a stunning performance of his own, averaging 26.3 ppg, 5.4 assists, and 8.1 rebounds. Going into the second round against Nuggets, they found themselves down 3-1 yet again against the second seed in the West. 

The Los Angeles Clippers, led by all stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George with a strong contributing cast of role players like Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverley, surely were the ones to shut this Cinderella team down. Yet this was not the case, as the Nuggets came back from a 3-1 deficit and beat the Clippers in the seventh game. 

The Lakers also fought their own battles in the playoffs, as they faced the Portland Trail Blazers led by Damian Lillard and CJ Mcollum. As the Blazers took the game one victory from the Lakers, they had to get their composure back in the following games. 

The Lakers then proceeded to win the next four games in a row, closing that first round series out in a matter of five games. Heading into the next round, the Lakers proceeded to face the Houston Rockets, led by James Harden and Russell Westbrook. This series was the same scenario as the first round for the Lakers as they found themself losing game one. The Lakers then proceeded to win the next four games, closing the series out in five. 

As the Lakers and the Nuggets finally matched up in the Western Conference finals, the Lakers took a 2-0 series lead against Denver. The Nuggets won the third game, sparking a bit of hope for Nuggets fans to possibly see the team advance to the finals. But the Lakers had other plans as they won back to back games against the Nuggets and advanced to the NBA Finals.
Now, as we see the Los Angeles Lakers look to win another championship and bring their city the trophy, we also look forward to seeing their Finals matchup against the Miami Heat, who have made a sizable resurgence without their former leader of LeBron James these past few seasons. With the caliber of players such as Jimmy Butler and the rising young gun Bam Adebayo, can LA’s lake water extinguish Miami’s intense flames? Sit tight and let’s find out.