The NBA Finals are here, and they are filled with storylines! There’s going to be a lot of pettiness, a lot of chips on the shoulders, a lot of revenge-seeking, but it will only add quality to the series itself.
Now, set aside the obvious ones; LeBron going up against his former team/coach, AD chasing his first championship, James building up his all-time resume, or the Heat being the underdog. And while all of these add value to the series, we’re here to give you some lesser-known facts about the bubble’s Finals matchup. So let’s get to it.
The low seed incoming
The Miami Heat are the first No. 5 seed to ever reach the NBA Finals. The only lower seeds to do so were the ’81 Rockets, ’95 Rockets, and ’99 Knicks. The ’81 Rockets lost the six-game series to the Boston Celtics; the eight-seeded Knicks were on the wrong side of the gentleman’s sweep, and Hakeem’s Rockets swept Shaq and the Magic to become the only team from the group to win the championship. And starting today, Miami will look to join them.
Jimmy Butler vs. LeBron James
Jimmy Butler vs. LeBron James will be the key matchup to the series. Looking at the two going head to head over the course of their NBA career, siding with one is impossible. Why? They squared off 34 times, including the playoffs, and their record is 17-17. LeBron has the edge when facing Jimmy in the postseason, as he came out on top in 8 of 11 games played. Getting that number to 12 will be the utmost priority for James.
Eric Spoelstra vs. Frank Vogel
Speaking about even matchups, Eric Spoelstra vs. Frank Vogel is another one. The two have gone head-to-head 51 times in the regular season and playoffs. Spoelstra leads the head-to-head, 26-25 as the majority of them came in the four-year span where James was in Miami and Indiana was an annual postseason problem. However, the latest two went in Vogel’s favor, as the Lakers’ coach will continue to feed off that momentum.
The LeBron stoppers
‘The Heat can win the series because they have enough bodies to throw at LeBron.’ It’s not only that they have enough, but they may have the best ones. Among the players that guarded LeBron James since ’13. Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder ranked 2nd and 3rd, holding The King’s FG% to 41.2% and 42.2%. The only guy who ranks higher on the list of LeBron’s slow-downers is Draymond Green, as he held him to 39.3% shooting in their head-to-head matchups.
The longevity of Pat Riley
With the Heat advancing to the Finals, Pat Riley has now been a part of an NBA Finals team for six consecutive decades, in three different roles.
The 75-year-old NBA icon is still up for the fight, as Pat is chasing his ninth NBA championship – third as an executive. He continues to build one of the most ramified winning resumes in NBA history grounded on hard work, dedication, and all-in mentality, all of which is the epitome of Riley himself. Chasing that ninth ring is the next step for the NBA’s ‘Mad Genius.’
From this being Andre Iguodala’s sixth straight Finals to Dion Waiters securing the ring before the series even tips off, there are a plethora of fun facts that go along with the unprecedented Finals matchup we are about to witness. And all of these are pointing to a single conclusion – we’re in for a treat.