Sep 28, 2020 - Sports

Lakers vs. Heat for the NBA's bubble title

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Six years after the "Big Three" broke up, the Heat are back in the NBA Finals, where they will face the Lakers and LeBron James, the man who brought them to four straight last decade.

The state of play: For the first time in NBA history, both finalists didn't make the playoffs in the prior season.

  • The Heat are just the third team seeded No. 5 or lower to make the NBA Finals since the 16-team format was introduced, joining the 1995 Rockets (beat Magic) and 1999 Knicks (lost to Spurs).
  • The Lakers will compete in their record 32nd NBA Finals (16-15 record) and first since 2010, when Kobe Bryant led them past the Celtics for a second straight title.


  • LeBron James vs. Jimmy Butler: They've squared off 34 times in their careers (including playoffs). Their head-to-head record? 17-17.
  • Frank Vogel vs. Erik Spoelstra: They've met 50 times as head coaches, with Spoelstra owning a 26-24 advantage.
  • Anthony Davis vs. Bam Adebayo: The two Kentucky products will go to battle, both inside and outside the paint. Adebayo was dominant in Game 6 against the Celtics (32-14-5), while Davis put up 31.2 ppg against the Nuggets.

Series schedule: (All games on ABC)

  • Game 1: Wednesday, 9pm ET
  • Game 2: Oct. 2
  • Game 3: Oct. 4
  • Game 4: Oct. 6
  • Game 5: Oct. 9
  • Game 6: Oct. 11
  • Game 7: Oct. 13

The droughts are over:

  • Syracuse: Lakers reserve Dion Waiters is the first former Syracuse player to reach the Finals in 40 years, snapping a four-decade drought for a school with a record 49 straight winning seasons.
  • Calipari: In his 11 years at Kentucky, John Calipari has coached 29 first-round picks — but not a single NBA champion. That ends this year, with either Davis (2011-12) or Tyler Herro (2018-19) and Adebayo (2016-17) raising the trophy.

Familiar faces:

  • Andre Iguodala will play in his sixth straight NBA Finals.
  • James has played in nine of the last 10 NBA Finals and 10 overall, which is more than every franchise except for three (Lakers, Celtics and Warriors).
  • Lakers veterans: With James, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, and Danny Green, the Lakers have at least one player from every NBA Finals since 2008.
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