"There is absolutely no chance on earth the Miami Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2020 NBA Finals!"
That is the conventional thought permeating the sports world right now, and it seems quite appropriate. Seriously, who is bidding against a laser-focused LeBron James hellbent on bringing LA its first championship in 10 years?
However, there may just be a chance Eric Spoelstra’s squad can shock the world and bring Pat Riley his 10th NBA title; third as Miami's president.
That chance, however minuscule it may be, is contingent upon the one thing that sent Miami running rampant through the Eastern Conference on a spoiler mission to the finals. That one thing is Jimmy Butler!
IF, and I do mean if, there is one person who may hold the key to slaying the Western Conference giants known as the Lakers, it is Butler. Setting his statistical impact aside, Butler has given the Heat something they and many other teams in the league have sought for years, a binding agent. There’s something magical about the intangible asset of team unity.
Are the Heat stacked with a roster full of high-profile marquee superstars? No.
Do the Heat have a singular game-changing scorer buoying their offense? No.
Do the Heat have local shaman invoking the assistance of the spirit world to Miami’s benefit? I don’t actually know the answer to that.
However, I do know that Jimmy Butler has found a way to lock arms and energy with a rag-tag group of players, including Jae Crowder and Bam Adebayo, that are fully aware no-one is expecting them to win it all. They know. They read the articles and watch the shows just like we do.
The difference with this Miami team is that it flourishes as the underdog. It succeeds when the attention is on the opponent. Remember how the Heat ran straight through the Indiana Pacers in a four-game sweep. Recall how they cordially dismissed the Milwaukee Bucks with a gentlemen’s 4-1 sweep. Then came the coup de grace as they bullied the Boston Celtics into submission en route to the Finals.
This team may not be the belle of the ball, but it is the scrappiest and most unified team we’ve seen in years. The Lakers would be wise not to overlook the team that’s proven all things are equal when the ball is rolled out. With no normal distractions typically found in the NBA Playoffs, the Miami Heat, just 3 1/2 hours from home, have found they may just hold the key to their own destiny.
The only question remaining is: Will it be enough to stop the LeBron-geles Lakers?
Game 1 of the NBA Finals is set for Wednesday at 9 p.m.