The Los Angeles Lakers are considered the biggest favorite to win the NBA championship this season, more so after the Los Angeles Clippers were eliminated from playoff contention by the Denver Nuggets earlier this week. It looks like the Lakers have everything in their favor to win their 17th NBA championship and tie the Boston Celtics as the biggest winners in NBA history.
According to Bill Simmons, though, the Lakers could face a very difficult rival in the Finals in the name of the Miami Heat. Erik Spoelstra is one of the best coaches in the league and the challenge he could mean for James and his Lakers could be huge. The 2019/20 Miami Heat are a well-rounded team with great coaching, experience and youth that has surprised a lot of people this season.
They became one of the best teams in the East, made the playoffs and so far has lost only one game, against the #1 seed and biggest favorite to come out of the East, Milwaukee Bucks. Simmons believes this matchup would be 'terrible' for the Lakers if they clash in the Finals (1:33:00 mark).
"Miami is really talented. I think they're the most talented team left; I would have said that before the Clippers lost," he said on Wednesday's edition of the Bill Simmons Podcast.
"If Miami plays this Lakers team. If Miami gets by Boston and the Lakers get by Denver, I think it is a 2-4 2004 Finals scenario in the making for an upset. I think it's a terrible matchup for the Lakers."
Those 2004 Pistons landed in the Finals with nothing to lose and a lot to win. One of the best defensive teams the league has seen in recent years, the Pistons dismantled the favorite Lakers who had Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Gary Payton and Karl Malone on the roster. Simmons believes these Heat could do the same against the Lakers given all their tools and the coaching staff.
This isn't the first time he makes such a bold claim about the Heat this postseason; at the end of August, he picked Miami to beat the Bucks and predicted they were going to play the Clippers in the Finals.
“I picked Miami in this series,” Simmons said of Miami’s upcoming series against the Milwaukee Bucks. “I bet on Miami to make the Finals and play the Clippers.
“I love this matchup for them. I like their team. I think they have an awesome coach.”
Now things have changed in terms of their potential rivals, but the Heat keeps fighting to reach the big stage and play for the NBA title.