Golden State Warriors injuries cleared path to Lakers’ title

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 06: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during the second quarter against the Miami Heat in Game Four of the 2020 NBA Finals at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on October 6, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 06: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during the second quarter against the Miami Heat in Game Four of the 2020 NBA Finals at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on October 6, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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The NBA Finals could look entirely different right now had it not been for massive injuries to the Golden State Warriors.

Barring any miracles, the Los Angeles Lakers are about to stampede their way to an NBA championship while losing just one game per series. This is a level of dominance on par with the Golden State Warriors when they rampaged through the league in 2017. But, most can agree this Lakers team is far from the powerhouse Golden State was.

So, how is it that LA breezed to a championship?

Firstly, let’s break down the narrative that this was an ‘easy’ path for LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The two superstars battled against a great eight-seed in Portland before taking on the streakiest team in the league in the second round. While the Denver series seems like a wash on paper, the duo of Jamal Murry and Nikola Jokic was on fire before the Western Conference Finals began. Not to mention, the mental challenge of being isolated in the bubble for months is a factor that has to be respected.

The only series in which the Lakers truly lucked out was in the finals – when injuries to Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo drastically changed the outlook of this matchup. Still, the Heat were able to steal a game due to their tenacity and an unbelievable performance from Butler.

However, things would have been even more different had the Warriors been healthy enough to compete in the bubble. Even if they were a lower seed, the power of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green would have made the Warriors the scariest dark horse candidate in league history.

I’m not saying the Warriors would have beaten the Lakers. In fact, I think the Dubs would have struggled mightily to stop James and Davis without the size to deter them. But, a showdown between the two would have been thrilling – and arguably more entertaining than any matchup we saw in the bubble.

Next season, we will have another opportunity to see these titans battle. Let’s hope that fans will safely be able to attend games by then so we can get the full NBA Playoff experience.

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