With the COVID-19 crisis looming over our nation and the sports world, the end of the NBA season is unknown. Although we all would like to finish the season, the safety of the United States is much more important in these times.
With that in mind, our topic today is: Who would have won/will win the 2020 NBA Finals?
At the time the season stopped, the Milwaukee Bucks were in 1st place in the Eastern Conference and in the whole NBA with a record of 53-12. The LA Lakers led the West with a 49-14 record. The Bucks and Lakers were both clear favorites to win their conference tournaments, but there were definitely some additional dark horses to make a Finals run. Let’s explore.
The two teams I could have seen making a nice run to the ECF are the Raptors and the Nets.
For the Raptors, they were the CLEAR #2 team in the East. For most teams who go up against the Bucks, Giannis is their biggest concern for good reason. However, the Raptors have two key assets that few teams have, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. These two rank in the top 15 in DWS(Defensive Win shares). OG is #9 and Siakam is #12.
How does Milwaukee fair on defense you ask? Well their entire starting lineup is in the top 15 in DWS, but that doesn’t matter in this series. The reason it doesn’t matter, is because of how the Toronto Raptors play basketball and how the Bucks play.
The Raptors play very fluid basketball, with very little isolation ball, especially in the playoffs. The Bucks however usually go 4 spread shooters with Giannis attacking iso. In this matchup, the Bucks do worse when the opposing team has a very good isolation defender and the other 4 defenders don’t need to crash and support. With 2 players who could conceivably defend Giannis, the Bucks would have much more trouble running their normal offense. This would give the Raptors a clear advantage over most teams in the East.
Now you may ask, what about the Nets? Well just think about it. Kyrie and KD were out and the Nets were the 7 seed in the East. Well, if the NBA returns for a tournament in June or July… They would both be healthy. I don’t really need to say more, except that I would love to watch them make a little playoff run.
And now for the Wild Wild West:
To be honest, other than the Lakers winning the West, I am not sure what would happen in a Western Conference playoff scenario. The Clippers are obviously the crowd favorite because of the dynamic duo of Leonard and George. I normally would agree, but they have not played very many games together, and with a long hiatus their chemistry on the floor may be even worse. They have the deepest team and likely would end up in the WCF initiating a 7 game Staples Center series.
But who else? Well my vote for the dark horse team goes to the Dallas Mavericks. Not only would I love to watch Luka Doncic and Kristaps go to town on the West, but I also think that Luka is the one player in the West who can match LeBron on the offensive side of the ball. Kristaps creates a huge matchup with the spacing of the floor, especially when AD is off the floor. The Mavs have the advantage at the guard position with Luka, Brunson and Seth Curry, who could all take advantage of Rondo and Avery Bradley. I may not have advanced stats to back up these claims, but anyone who has watched Luka, especially in crunch time, will back me up on this.
Overall, my picks to go to the NBA Finals would still be the Lakers and Bucks. In that sense, I truly believe Giannis would take home the NBA crown, the Finals MVP crown, and the crown of best basketball player on this earth. Whenever this happens, I will be on the edge of my seat watching the entire playoffs, cause man do I miss basketball.