After the NBA restart began on July 30, the NBA has finally whittled the field down to four, as the conference finals are now in full swing. The Miami Heat have taken a 2-1 series lead over the Boston Celtics, while the Los Angeles Lakers lead the Denver Nuggets 2-0. Let’s take a closer look at each series so you can place your bets against their NBA Playoffs odds.
Rundown of NBA Playoffs | 2020 Conference Finals
After blowing large leads and losing the first two games, then having a locker room squabble after Game 2, the Celtics were finally able to defeat the Heat 117-106 on Saturday night. Led by Jaylen Brown’s 26 points, Jayson Tatum’s 25 points and 14 boards, and Kemba Walker’s 21 points, the Celtics looked like the group that overpowered Toronto to get to the conference finals.
Boston had squandered leads in the first two games, largely due to stretches of offensive inefficiency. Boston scrapped their offense filled with movement for more one-on-one isolation and late-clock ball-screen plays. This proved to be their downfall, as Miami took advantage of Boston’s inability to hold a lead.
Another factor that hindered the Celtics was their inability to score against Miami’s 2-3 zone defense. Miami would switch to a 2-3 zone at times, and Boston couldn’t seem to score against it. The Celtics settled for long three-pointers and more isolation plays, and they struggled to score.
We also have to give credit to the Miami Heat. Eric Spoelstra may be the best coach in the NBA. He has been able to take a team that doesn’t have the most talented roster and turn it into a legitimate title contender.
Led by the tough play of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, the resurgence of Goran Dragic, and the hot shooting of Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson, the Heat have been able to take a 2-1 series lead.
This series should be very exciting to watch, as these teams are very evenly matched. If Boston can get the production from its top players and can get Gordon Hayward back into the mix, it will have a great shot at winning the East.
If Miami keeps playing at the level it’s been playing at, the Celtics will have a tough time overcoming the 2-0 deficit.
After a grueling seven-game series with the LA Clippers in which they overcame a 3-1 deficit for the second time in the playoffs, the Denver Nuggets advanced to the Western Conference finals. Unfortunately for them, they met up with a well-rested Los Angeles Lakers team and lost Game 1 by a score of 126-114.
The Nuggets’ top two scorers, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, each scored 21 points to lead Denver. Michael Porter Jr. also chipped in with 14 points. But the Nuggets looked fatigued, and they had a hard time stopping the Lakers offense.
The fresh Lakers squad was led by Anthony Davis, who scored 37 points. Denver didn’t seem to have the defensive answer for one of the league’s most unguardable players. The Lakers had four other players in double figures, including LeBron James with 15 points and 12 assists.
Denver looked a bit flat in Game 2 as well, falling behind early, but they showed the same heart they’ve shown throughout the playoffs, fighting back to take the lead in the fourth quarter. After going back and forth through the final minutes, Davis gave the Lakers a 2-0 series lead by draining a three-pointer at the buzzer to give Los Angeles a two-point victory.
The Lakers clearly have the advantage in this series, as the duo of Davis and James will be very hard for the Nuggets to contain. The Lakers could have issues guarding Jokic and Murray as well, but right now, the Lakers look like the team to beat in the West.