NBA Finals: Lakers, Heat square off in Game One tonight

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The coincidence of this series is quite delicious and will own the intrigue and conversation until the ball goes up Wednesday (at 21:00h) in Game One. LeBron James will be playing against the team he helped win a pair of championships.

This scenario will get heavy airplay in the build-up, as it should; LeBron was a solid favorite to return to the championship round once the Lakers got Anthony Davis, while the Heat make for a surprise guest.

The Lakers bring a pair of All-NBA first-team members, while Miami hasn’t had anyone on that level since…LeBron left town, six summers ago.

That’s not to suggest Miami doesn’t belong. The Heat chopped through arguably a tougher path than the Lakers by beating the Bucks and Celtics and did so without too much of a sweat. Most important, the confidence and swagger of the younger players is soaring.

Miami is placing a burden on rookie Tyler Herro and second-year players Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson; none of the three have shivered from stage fright. Rather than settle for simply growing into being a contender, the Heat’s mindset is to win right now.

It’s the mindset that might be the best thing going for Miami in a series where they cannot match talent-for-talent against the Lakers’ Big Two.

It’s astonishing how much of Jimmy Butler’s cut-throat personality has rubbed off on the Miami roster. This team embraced his attitude from Day One and no matter what the situation, the Heat refuse to back down.

It’s a credit to Butler, who didn’t respect the personnel in Minnesota or Philly and followed his instincts to Miami, which at the time didn’t have proven stars such as Karl Anthony-Towns or Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, yet had a spirited group that apparently lacked only a leader.

However, if the heavily-favored Lakers maintain the same intensity they played with in the previous three rounds, then this could be more than Miami can handle. LeBron is playing in his 10th NBA Finals and is four wins away from his fourth title, which he’d win for a third team.

He’s eager to accomplish that rare feat and knows where it’ll place him in the pecking order of all-time great players.

With LeBron locked in and Davis enjoying his deepest run into the postseason, can you envision any scenario in which the Lakers, assuming their two superstars are aligned, are outplayed in a championship series where stars almost always prevail?

For the storied Lakers franchise, this 17th championship is theirs to lose. (NBA)

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