Another NBA season is in the books, and the Los Angeles Lakers are championships for the 17th time in their storied history. Despite facing adversity during numerous parts of the season, the Lakers lived up to their high expectations, clinching the no. 1 seed, breezing through the playoffs, and fighting off a scrappy Miami Heat team in six games for the title. For the Heat, while their season is over, they have a lot to be proud of this season. Here are the three takeaways from this year's Finals.
After this Finals performance, LeBron James has officially established himself among the greatest Lakers. His Lakers' tenure didn't start off well, as injuries resulted in a disappointing non-playoff season. But a rejuvenated James came back to put up one of the best seasons of his career averaging 25 points, 7 rebounds, and a career high 10 assists. In the playoffs, James was on a mission. On offense, he finished around and above the rim at will, while also showing off his outside touch from everywhere. In close games, most notably game 5 against the Denver Nuggets, he displayed that killer instinct people have questioned, hitting big shots down the stretch. He closed out the Finals in style with a triple double, putting up 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists. Michael Jordan may have six championships, but winning four times with three different teams should put LeBron over Jordan in my opinion.
LeBron wasn't the only one performing at a high level. Last year in June, the Lakers acquired Anthony Davis in a blockbuster deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, for a several players and draft picks. As of now, it's safe to say that L.A. got what they wanted from this deal. Davis had his own dominant season, putting up 26 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game. More importantly, Davis served as the perfect compliment to James, finishing his alley oops on offense, and improving the team's defense. Despite only two previous trips to the playoffs, experience wasn't an issue for Davis, as his dominance continued. His signature moment came in game 2 vs the Nuggets where he broke the series open with a game-winning, buzzer beater from three. In the Finals, he continued to show out and even earned consideration for Finals MVP.
For the Miami Heat, they might've lost, but they should be really proud of this season. Despite the signing of Jimmy Butler, expectations weren't high for the Heat entering the season. But this team immediately clicked from the beginning. Butler not only performed at a high level, but he served as a mentor for young players such as Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. Miami finished as the fifth seed. They swept the Indiana Pacers but it was the second round where they emerged as a contender, defeating Giannis Antetokounmpo's top seeded Milwaukee Bucks. A 4-2 victory over the Boston Celtics earned them a spot in the Finals for the first time in six seasons, where despite Butler's heroic efforts, the Lakers were too good for them. However, this team has lots to look forward to. Most of the roster will be coming back and as long as coach Erik Spolstra and president of operations Pat Riley are here, this team will be good in the years to come.
It's unlikely that we'll ever see an NBA Finals like this one. The mental challenge of staying in the same place for four months without family, and playing without any fans might have made this the toughest NBA season yet. It might've been a long wait for basketball to come back, but this outcome made the wait totally worth it.