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Illustration by Gabriel Mantione-Holmes

Los Angeles Lakers bring the heat to Miami in 2020 finals victory

way past Miami Heat to cap off a historic playoff run that featured three-point barrages and a stifling defense. This gave James his fourth NBA Championship ring and Davis his first. Despite the electric play of star forward Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat lost the NBA Finals after six hard-fought games.

The loss of starters Goran Dragić and Bam Adebayo to detrimental injuries proved to be too much to overcome for Miami. Adebayo’s return in the fourth game of the Finals after being out for games two and three provided a massive boost to Miami’s defense, but the offense’s scoring struggles late in the game allowed the Lakers to pull ahead, leaving the Heat down three games to one. After Miami won game five on the back of Butler’s crunch-time heroics, a hobbled Dragić returned in game six to watch his team get blown out by the Lakers in emphatic fashion.

Miami came into the playoffs as a team prone to streaks and surprisingly captured the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Their playoff run seemed to be almost Cinderella-esque at times. With huge wins over the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics, Miami captured the underdog spotlight and the attention of NBA fans. They were the team that everyone seemed to be rooting for and yet they still came up short against Goliath, otherwise known as the Lakers.

The Lakers were favored to win the NBA championship at the start of the season. Their veteran roster was loaded with capable role players and proven leadership, which is why much of the sports media predicted a Lakers victory over Miami even before Dragić and Adebayo sat out due to injury. During their title run, they toppled the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets in five games apiece.

Due to the large number of students from Oregon and California at Lewis & Clark, the LC student body was divided between support for the Lakers and support for the Heat. Oregonians were more inclined to root for the Heat because their beloved Trail Blazers were shortly eliminated in the first round by the Lakers, while Californians were mostly in full support of their Los Angeles juggernaut. Social distancing practices prevented these two groups from having any sort of conflict.

LC student Faith Gallegos ’23 said that many members of the community openly voiced their support for the Lakers and the Heat during the Finals.

“There were a lot of people that decorated their windows with basketball stickers,” Gallegos said. One person even put up a sign that said ‘Lakers 2020 Champions’ after they won.”   

With the 2019-20 season officially over, basketball fans at LC and beyond can only hope that the 2020-21 season will arrive swiftly. The Lakers are already favorites to repeat as champions according to several leading sports publications. It remains to be seen whether Miami will stand in their way or fail to reach the NBA Finals for a second straight year. However, one thing is certain: the performance Miami gave during the 2020 playoffs ensures that people will take notice of them moving forward.      

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