The 2020 NBA Finals don’t begin until June 4 but it’s never too early to start looking ahead.
The Milwaukee Bucks are the clear favorite to win the Eastern Conference and Giannis & Co. are certainly included on this list multiple times. However, they’re obviously not the only team in the East. The Toronto Raptors are the defending champions and are having a better year than most expected. The Boston Celtics are right there in the mix. It’s going to be tough for anyone to beat the Bucks four times, but anything is possible.
In the Western Conference, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are currently atop the standings. But again, they’re not the only team in play. The team they share the Staples Center with, the Clippers, certainly have the pieces to get to the NBA Finals. The Houston Rockets are playing great basketball. Nobody seems to be talking about the Denver Nuggets but they’re right there as well.
Here’s a look at some intriguing matchups for the 2020 NBA Finals.
LA Lakers vs. Boston Celtics
This is an easy call. It’s the Los Angeles Lakers versus the Boston Celtics. The two teams have faced one another a record 12 times in the NBA Finals, the first coming in 1959 and most recently in 2010. Right in the middle was the incredible Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird rivalry that saved the NBA in the 1980s. While some might think a Lakers vs. Celtics NBA Finals wouldn’t be as special these days, adding new names to this incredible rivalry would be very special, just as it was when Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol battled Boston’s big three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen.
There’s a number of storylines here. Obviously, LeBron James is looking to add to his legacy and bringing a title to Tinseltown with the Lakers, especially against the Celtics, would be amazing. Anthony Davis is looking for his first championship. Rajon Rondo playing against the Celtics in the Finals would be a sight to see. On the other side, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and Gordon Hayward are looking to build their own legacy in Beantown. Bring championship number 18 to Boston at the hands of the Lakers would be a good start.
LA Clippers vs. Toronto Raptors
The Los Angeles Clippers versus the Toronto Raptors would simply make for great television. Besides being two of the best teams in the NBA, the fact is that this would just be a great story. The Toronto Raptors became the first team outside the United States to win the NBA Finals a season ago. One of the big reasons why that happened was Kawhi Leonard, who now plays for the Clippers. What a storyline that could be.
Many thought that once Leonard decided not to stay in Toronto that the Raptors wouldn’t be a contender this season. That’s obviously proved not to be the case. They’re playing fantastic basketball and will be battling the Celtics and Miami Heat for the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Led by Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry, the Raptors have six players averaging double digits in points this season. They’re deep and they know how to win in the playoffs.
The Clippers should be right there in the Western Conference. Even with Paul George dealing with some injury trouble this year, the “other LA team” will be in the top half of the draw in the West. Kawhi is having yet another MVP-caliber season and the Clips also have six players with double-digit scoring averages.
Denver Nuggets vs. Milwaukee Bucks
While there are many people out there (likely including ABC and TNT, who are broadcasting the NBA Finals and Western Conference Finals, respectively) that don’t want to see the Denver Nuggets make a deep run in the playoffs. They’re not flashy or sexy but they continue to win basketball games. They’re in the bottom half of the league in overall scoring, yet they still have six players averaging more than 10 points per game, led by Nikola Jokic, who has become one of the top players in the Western Conference.
Now think about Nikola matching up against Giannis Antetokounmpo. What a thrilling battle that could be. Then there’s Khris Middleton, who is having a great season of his own in Milwaukee. Potential matchups with Denver’s Paul Millsap or Will Barton, two highly underrated players, could be fantastic. Both teams are in the top 10 in overall defense this season. Would the Nuggets be able to contain Giannis and the Bucks? For that matter, can any team do that?
Houston Rockets vs. Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks versus the Houston Rockets could possibly be one of the highest-scoring NBA Finals in history if it were to happen. The Bucks and Rockets are the two highest-scoring teams in the NBA this season, both coming up just short of 120 points per game. The series would also include three of the top seven scorers in the NBA in James Harden, Giannis
Antetokounmpo, and Russell Westbrook. This series would be an entertaining shootout for which fans would go insane. And let’s not forget about the little rivalry that’s brewing here.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden are starting to get after one another a little bit. It began with Giannis taking a little jab at The Beard after the All-Star Game, saying that his team was trying to get the ball to whomever Harden was guarding. Harden responded by essentially saying all Giannis could do was run and dunk. Giannis responded with a 40-point, 20-rebound effort. It’s getting a little chippy and an NBA Finals matchup between the two could be wildly entertaining.
LA Lakers vs. Milwaukee Bucks
This is likely the matchup most people are wanting to see. The Milwaukee Bucks versus the Los Angeles Lakers, the battle between the top two teams in the NBA. LeBron and AD vs. Giannis and Middleton. The stories here are endless. The Bucks are looking for their first title since 1971. The Lakers are looking for championship number 17, which would tie them with the Celtics for the most in history. Giannis is looking to further build his legacy with an NBA Championship. LeBron James isn’t quite ready to pass the torch and wants a fourth title of his own.
The Lakers and Bucks have all the tools to reach the NBA Finals. The storylines are there. The fans are waiting for it. We’ll all just have to wait and see how everything plays out.