If you’re not a NBA fiend, but you have someone you want to connect with who is, or have a curiosity about the gladiator match ahead, then you are like Cody’s mom. And Cody’s NBA Finals preview is an imagined conversation with his mom… This article is a great way to access the NBA for the music and movies folks.
This site covers three topics. If you are someone who is super passionate about all three or even just one and comes here for deep dives into analog recording gear, or pick-and-roll coverage’s, or Miyazaki’s animation influences, we LOVE that and we want to go there with you! But another passion of ours is crossover and exposure. We’d love nothing more than if through the site the cinephiles became Sarah Jarosz fans or if the Indie Folk heads gain a conversation starter with their hoops junkie father.
And today, it is the latter folks this article is for. My NBA Finals preview is an imagined conversation with someone super important to me: my mom. How much does my mom know about the NBA? Basically nothing. So if you also know nothing, but have a curiosity for the epic, legacy alternating Battle Royale that kicks off at 9PM ET tonight. Well, take a seat next to my mom, here we go.
–Hi, honey. I love your writing!
Thank you. Thank you so much. If you called me to say that you didn’t like it, I’d be worried.
–There’s one thing I don’t get though.
Yeah? Which part?
–Can you explain it to me?
The entirety of basketball?
–When you say it like that, it kind of sounds like a lot.
How about just the Finals.
–Perfect. Who is winning?
They start Wednesday.
–OK, OK, let me grab a pen. Who is going to win?
There are a lot of—
–Wait, back up. Who’s playing?
The Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat.
–And LeBron James—yes I’ve heard of him—plays for the Lakers. No, wait, he was on the Heat. Is he on the Heat now? Is he on both teams? How can he do that? That shouldn’t be allowed.
He’s just on the Lakers.
–How many schools have players on the Heat built?
That’s not a stat on ESPN.
–He’s been in the NBA forever.
That’s true. This is his 10th NBA finals appearance. With three different teams. And he’s the best player on his team, I think, even though this is his 17th season.
-Whoa. So he’s better than Michael Jordan.
–Who has the better offense?
Los Angeles has two of the best offensive players on the planet Earth in James and Anthony Davis. Miami can be a beautiful cohesive machine. According to standard statistics, these two teams are pretty even. In fact, their numbers are within one of each other in all of the major stats except two point percentage and foul shooting percentage. (So that includes team three point percentage, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and points per game.) Still, these are teams with different styles. The Heat shoot 45% of their shots from three point range. While the Lakers are at 38%. The Lakers focus on getting to the rim and take 30% of their shots from within three feet of the basket. Conversely, Miami’s takes only 20% of their shots from point blank range.
The Lakers average the shortest distance per shot attempt out of any of the sixteen playoff teams. So the Lakers try to shoot the ball from close in while the Heat try to shoot from far away. The far away shots are worth more points. Therefore, if the Heat can hit a high percentage of them, they can make up for the difference in star power. We have seen that strategy fail before, however. And the little secret from the last round was that the Heat weren’t stroking shots. Jae Crowder’s shooting got shoved in a van by men in ski masks. Therefore the Heat’s young phenom Center, Bam Adebayo, will be the key to this offense. If he can summon the energy to be the dominant creator he was at times in the Boston series, the Heat can move the ball and get the less talented defenders on the Lakers out of position.
From there, almost every player on this Heat team can attack in some way. They move the ball very well. They are still assisting on almost 90% of their threes. The Lakers have a much less complicated formula. Give the ball to LeBron. Let him create. Give the ball to AD. Let him shoot over the top of just about anyone. Do not give the ball to J.R. Smith. LeBron has double PhDs in breaking down your defense and making you pay for the smallest mistakes. When his is on, he is unstoppable. AD can score from anywhere on the floor. I would guard him even when he’s on the bench. I might be over simplifying, but does that make sense?
-I don’t understand anything you just said.
The Heat have a deeper team with more top-to-bottom talent. But the Lakers have the two best players.
-What about defense?
I’ve really appreciated the defense that LeBron has been playing this playoffs. Rondo and Caruso can be good defensive guards. Davis was second in Defensive Player of the Year voting this season. His quickness and shot blocking are nearly unparalleled.
On the other side, the Heat have several players they can throw at LeBron. I’m not saying they can stop him—only J.J. Barea has in 17 years—but they have the best group of wings to throw out LeBron of any team he has faced in these playoffs. If Bam can’t slow down Davis, AD is going to run wild and that will be a real problem for the Heat. Miami’s ability and willingness to mix up zone and man defenses will be the most fascinating chess match of the Finals. Spoelstra (Heat coach) has been incredible at those tactical moves thus far. Can he cause the Lakers to have to think for that extra half a second? We will see.
–And special teams?
–You said LeBron is the best player on the Lakers. But who is the most important player on each team? Like emotionally.
On Miami, it might be Udonis Haslem. He’s been on the Heat since 2003… He doesn’t even play anymore, but he’s the heartbeat of this squad. That clip of him giving it to the team on the bench has obviously made the rounds. He has played in—and won—the Finals. He has played with LeBron. I believe he is the invisible glue that can hold things together. Obviously, on the court stuff matters more than someone in sweats, but I think the behind the scenes personality aspect does matter in how the Heat have navigated this bubble situation.
For the Lakers, and all the opposite reasons, I would say Dwight Howard. This guy is a notoriously difficult teammate. He is also only on the team because only weeks before the season tipped off, Lakers Center Boogie Cousins tore his ACL, so they picked up Dwight off the street. He was literally out of the league. And now he is probably going to start… His demeanor, when it goes south, can shake the chemistry of a team. It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s always lurking around the corner. I think LeBron and company have done a good job keeping him in check and that his unprecedented commitment to staying in his lane and playing his role is a big part of the Lakers success.
-I appreciate that Anthony Davis has a unibrow.
We all do.
-I’m searching aol.com for the Heat. Why are they letting those two 12-year olds play with them? Is this a charity contest thing?
That is Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro. Two young players that have really exploded this playoffs. They are 25 and 20 years old, respectively and they are going to be crucial pieces in the Heat attack. If they can continue to defy their youth and not give in to the pressure, it makes Miami a very dangerous team. They can create matchup nightmares because you always have to be aware of where they are on the court. Robinson will shoot the ball from anywhere in Orlando. Herro will cut to the basket the moment you turn your head. They can run forever. I can’t believe 34 year old Rajon Rondo or 33 year old Danny Green are too excited about any part of that. Side note, I can’t believe that Danny Green is 33.
–Didn’t you see Andre Iguodala’s house?
No, but a Lyft driver told me where it was one time.
-Why isn’t Steph Curry playing? I like him.
I love the Warriors and next year they will jump right back into contention. So will several other teams, like Brooklyn. That being said, I’ve really appreciated the wide open feel of this season and these playoffs.
-I think something died in this arena. Or someone needs to take out the compost.
I don’t think they compost there. What are you talking about?
-Well everybody keeps whipping their heads all around like there are flies buzzing everywhere.
They are trying to draw foul calls. It is the stupidest part of the game. I hate it, I despise it. I know it is smart basketball, yet I also believe it is soft basketball. It is not entertaining and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the officiating is shaky in critical moments when players spend half their time trying to trick the referees into calling a foul.
-That makes more sense. My other thought was maybe that it was haunted. Who do you think would be haunting them?
LeBron chasing history. What he’s doing is just incredible. I don’t want to take it for granted.
–Who is your favorite? I’ll root for them.
I have changed my mind fifteen times. My heart is saying that the Miami Heat will prevail. With their shooting, they are never out of a game. They are tough. They’ve beaten Giannis and Tatum and T.J. Warren (lol). Their defensive versatility is a real asset. And yet, my head says LeBron will not be denied. In his career, LeBron has only lost to HISTORICALLY great players—Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kawhi Leonard, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant. While the Heat have special players, no Hall of Famers remain in his path.
He has orchestrated nearly every move necessary to get to this point. This is why he went to the Lakers last season. This is why they got AD. This is why they brought in Dwight and Rondo and those types. This is why you continue to play basketball during a pandemic. Now the moment is here. I believe that LeBron will capture it.