The scene is now. LeBron James had just won his first championship, making him a four-time NBA champion with four Finals MVPs. He’s still the king, but the challengers are bound to come up next year. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson back from injury. A hungrier Giannis. A motivated Jimmy Butler who wants to finish the job. Kevin Durant will be stepping on the court for the first time since 2019. The list goes on and on. These franchises are hungry for championships: you can see it in the way they’ve invested in their squads. The fight for a ring goes through LeBron in the West, but there are plenty of contenders.
It’s always fun to speculate on who makes the NBA Finals, but there are some preferred matchups people want to see. Superstars battling each other for the biggest trophy in the world of basketball is appealing to anyone, and there are all kinds of potential series that would electrify the NBA community. Here are some of the scenarios for the 2021 NBA Finals that everyone would like to see featuring storylines, big stars, and of course, good basketball.
5. Golden State Warriors vs. Miami Heat
Everybody loves an underdog. That means, people love Jimmy Butler and the Heat. This year, the Miami Heat made it to the Finals after upsetting the Milwaukee Bucks and beating the Celtics. They weren’t even supposed to be competing in the same league as the Lakers. However, during the bubble, they showed grit and determination. While the Lakers never lost control of the series, Jimmy Butler put in a notable triple-double performance and took two games from them. Butler can hoop plain and simple. His sort of grit and determination could will the Heat to the same spot next season
If the Heat play the Warriors in the Finals, then they would be playing for it all. What better story than an underdog franchise scraping their way to their Finals, and beating the most recent dynasty in memory? Jimmy Butler would be an NBA legend, with a mural in Miami. For the Golden State Warriors, this would be a golden opportunity for them to get their fourth championship with their current core.
This would be a matchup that no one would expect just last year and yet in the future, it may well happen. The Warriors and Butler both coming back to the Finals would be a good story as it would cement Butler as one of the leading stars of our generation, while also showing once again the dominance of the Warriors. This would be a Finals no one would predict at the start of the season but it could be one of the best matchups we could have.
4. Los Angeles Lakers vs. Milwaukee Bucks
After winning the 2019-2020 MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo highly underperformed in the bubble. The Greek superstar was trounced by Jimmy Butler and the Heat, who ultimately led his team to the Finals. There is no doubt that many people expected Giannis and the Bucks to be in that position. That being said, there is no doubt that the early playoff exit will fuel Antetokounmpo’s desire to lead his team to the Finals. If Giannis Antetokounmpo can reach the Finals and face LeBron James and the Lakers, then there is no doubt that he would have a good chance.
After the 2019-2020 season, no one should bet against LeBron James. Antetokounmpo is a young superstar, while James has been doing it for many long years. In a way, it would be a battle to see if the athleticism and raw talent of Giannis Antetokounmpo can beat the high-octane passing/IQ based game of LeBron. The matchup would surely be exciting as Antetokounmpo has been placed as next up by many in the media, and beating LeBron James would cement that. LeBron beating Giannis, on the other hand, would mean that he gets another championship and another year of warding off up and coming young stars. It would be a matchup of youth against experience and there is no doubt it would be a hard-fought series.
3. Golden State Warriors vs. Brooklyn Nets
The Golden State Warriors are a dynasty. Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson all have three rings. Their former teammate, Kevin Durant, is still looking for his third. Durant won two with the Warriors, but struck out on his own and teamed up with Kyrie Irving in free agency. If these juggernauts were to face each other in the Finals, then we would get to see the Warriors back to their winning ways. Meanwhile, KD would be taking on the task of defeating a dynasty which he left, along with newcomers Eric Paschall and Andrew Wiggins.
The Nets and the Warriors both have a combination of veteran talent and hungry young players. Stephen Curry got the best of Kevin Durant the last time they faced each other in a series; Durant was still in Oklahoma back then. Infamously, that led to Durant’s decision to join Golden State in free agency after blowing a 3-1 lead. In this series, Durant would seek to prove one thing: his ability to win a ring on a team that has never won anything beforehand. What better way for Kevin Durant to cement his legacy and prove himself than by beating the Warriors team that helped him win it all?
2. Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics
Who doesn’t love a little old school rivalry? The Lakers and Celtics rivalry has always been a prominent one: old heads might think back to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. More recent fans might think of Kobe and Paul Pierce in the 2000s. Regardless, there’s history there. The two most decorated franchises in the league will both have a legitimate shot at making the Finals in 2021. The Celtics will be led by two ascending stars: Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. They are also conveniently located in the weaker Eastern Conference. LeBron made the Finals in 2020, so obviously he’s still in the running. LeBron would get to face the Celtics in the Finals: he hadn’t faced that Celtics team in the playoffs since 2018, where the Celtics took the series to seven games.
This potential final series could spark even more interest in the NBA, harkening back to the olden times. Los Angeles is already booming because the Lakers got a championship: Boston could be next in line. There would be so much basketball culture charged into one potential series. The Staples Center and the TD Garden would boom for every home game.
Jayson Tatum going against LeBron James would be legendary. James himself has shouted out Tatum before, saying that Tatum “boomed” him after the young star dunked on James in a playoffs series. The revival of a great rivalry will draw long-standing NBA fans to cheer for the Finals, sparking even more interest in the game. This series would be one for the ages and another page in a long history of accolades for either franchise.
1. Los Angeles Lakers vs. Brooklyn Nets
The Lakers won the title this year, so of course, all the attention is on Finals MVP LeBron James and his co-star Anthony Davis. But for the few years before Toronto’s 2019 title and the 2020 Lakers title, Durant won two championships in a row in Golden State. People called him this and that for going to a good team, but what matters is that Durant is an NBA Champion, MVP, and Finals MVP despite playing on a historic team. Now he returns, ready to win an NBA title on a team where he is undisputedly the best player.
When healthy, Kevin Durant is almost always the consensus #2 player in the world. Durant has two rings to LeBron James’ four, and next year he will be looking to prove that he is the best player in the world. What better way than to go against the man who is considered the best by the media, and won a title in 2020? By beating James, Durant can show that he is currently still a transcendent player, while getting his third championship in the process.
Conversely, by beating Durant, James can show that he is still the man, and get closer to the coveted sixth ring. Both players would have a lot to gain and lose if this Finals matchup were to happen, and as fans, it would be fun to see both MVPs lay it all out in an attempt to win a championship.