This NBA Finals has been let down in so many ways. This may sound like a hot take, but it is the furthest thing from it. This NBA Finals has been the culmination of poor storylines, and a lopsided matchup that should result in a blowout.
This NBA Finals has been the lowest viewed since 2003 where the New Jersey Nets and San Antonio Spurs played each other. What does this NBA Finals have in common with the lopsided 2003 matchup? More than you might think.
Aside from the obvious basketball reasons, which I will get into, the current world situation has played a role in this. The finals are competing with events like the NFL season, MLB postseason, and the election.
Normally the finals have little competition to draw in viewers because they occur in the first half of June, but this is not the case this year because of COVID-19. These distracting factors and lack of fans really take away from the experience for the casual NBA fan.
“The finals are just boring this year,” said Charles Hawn (junior, nursing). “The lack of fans and competitiveness between these teams has just made the series irrelevant to me.”
This is a matchup between arguably the best dynamic duo in the league on the Lakers with Anthony Davis and Lebron James. Against a Pat Riley Miami Heat squad.
The LA Lakers tower over the Heat in every way imaginable.
They led the Western Conference this season with the No. 1 seed, While Miami came into the east as the No. 5 seed.
The Lakers have two all-star/All-NBA players and Miami is a young squad being led by a bench all-star in Jimmy Butler.
These teams are completely different in their play styles.
The Lakers are led primarily in the scoring column and production by their two All-NBA players in Davis and James. They lead their times averaging a combined 52 points for their squad. They rely heavily on their star power and have varying support from their role players.
Miami is on the other end of the spectrum as an entire team effort. They have had emerging stars like Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro come onto the scene this season. While both have had moments of shine, like Herro’s 37-point performance in game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
While showing gleams of potential, these players are not ready to take up the mantle right now. This team has had success with their tricky zone defense this season and have nice players averaging over eight points in the regular season.
While a solid and well-rounded team, Miami is devoid of having the size to guard players like Davis and Lebron. Their biggest player is Bam Adebayo at 6’9.” Before diving into the lack-luster competition that one might expect from this finals so far, let us get into the lack of storylines.
The only storyline between those two times that I and many members of the media can find is Pat Riley going up against his former player James. These teams have had very different paths to the finals. The expectation for any Lebron James led squad is always a title.
Miami came into the season with little expectation and has exceeded many fans expectations by making it this far. They upset a No. 1 seeded Milwaukee Bucks squad, that has now come up short in the past three postseasons. There are no expectations for this squad.
“They are playing with house money,” according to Stephen A. Smith. On top of having no expectations, there is no obvious rivalry from any members of each team. This Finals is devoid of any major storylines. Much like the 2003 finals.
Most people think Miami should not even be there. Many analysts like Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe thought that this NBA Finals would end in a sweep after game 1.
Former student and active member of the U.S. Air Force Hunter Mitchell said, “I think Anthony Davis and Lebron are hungrier for the title. Jimmy Butler is not enough to beat this squad.”
Maybe that Hunger isn’t strong enough after their loss in game 3.
With all this in mind, this brings me to my next point of disgust with this finals, the Lebron being the greatest of all-time narrative (GOAT). An anonymous member of Lebron’s camps said that if he wins this finals, this will make him the GOAT.
No doubt James’ 10 finals appearances are impressive, the six losses stand out as an eyesore to many purists like me. I also find it to be unfounded for Lebron fans to make a big deal of this finals that they should win because of the lack of expectations for the Heat.
This is a squad that has no business being in the finals, and you should easily handle your business with the star power and experience that the Lakers have. But, as per usual, Lebron fans are making a big deal out of something that many would think is unwarranted.
Much like one would expect, the first two games were won rather easily by LA with the first one the Lakers winning by 18 and game two by 10. Things were looking even bleaker for Miami after losing Bam Adebayo to a shoulder injury and Goran Dragic to a torn plantar in game one..
With all of this in mind, the sweep looked inevitable. Jimmy Butler had other plans in mind for this series. In game 3, Butler took over and became the only player in NBA history to put up a triple double in a finals victory.
Butler was unstoppable and put up 40 against this Lakers squad where he was primarily guarded by James. Butler willed this team to victory and did it all while talking trash to Lebron.
Like I have seen from countless occasions from Lebron, he showed his weak mentality by leaving the court before the game clock was out due to Butler’s dominance.
This will create the false narratives that I have referred to in past articles with Lebron. It will set the stage for him to dominate in game 4 where he will show that his reaction to game 3 was an anomaly and fool fans into forgetting about his “poor sportsmanship and weak overall performance,” as described by Hawn.
In what should have been an easy sweep, Lebron has allowed this Miami squad to steal a win. This could potentially be disastrous because it allows this squad to build confidence and experience on the biggest stage in basketball.
If the Heat even manage to push this series to six or seven games, I think it would be a disgrace to Lebron and his legacy. If a team that had no evident superstar manages to push the best dynamic duo we have seen arguably since Kobe and Shaq to six games, it will be a disappointment in my eyes for Lebron.
If this does happen, it will be exciting for the NBA fans out there so we can have a competitive series that will draw in more fans. Hopefully, the Heat and Butler can play out-of-their-minds and manage to steal a few more from the Lakers.
If they cannot, this could quite possibly end up being the most flatline and boring finals since 2003. The effects could have a bad affect on the league in ways that may not seem obvious.
The NBA is a league that has slowly grown in popularity in its worldwide appeal in markets like Australia, China, and the U.S.
After their recent fallout earlier this year with China in regard to Daryl Morrey’s controversial tweet, the NBA can’t afford to lose fans.
As it stands, fans are not happy with the product being put forward this year. This may cause some of the newcomers or more casual fans to not feel driven to watch future games.
The association has been losing viewership for quite some time now. Since 2016, ratings have been going down for a variety of reasons.
Some are valid like lack of competition in the case of the Golden State dynasty. Others are not very fair because of fallout due to the increased social justice protesting in the NBA, which I am a huge advocate for.
Regardless of the reason, viewership has been on a steady decline over the past few seasons. The league cannot afford to keep losing viewers.
A lack-luster finals could possibly be the worst thing that could happen for the league right now.
There are a plethora of people like Hawn who have become uninterested in watching much basketball at all because of the lack of competition in the finals.
For the sake of the league, I hope this finals can pick up some competition. There is more at stake than some may realize.