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Battle of champions

 On Oct 17 the Los Angeles Lakers were named the NBA champions after defeating the Miami Heat 106-93 in game six of the NBA Finals. Importantly, it’s the Lakers 17th title for the franchise, tying them with the Boston Celtics for the most all-time in NBA history. This was the Lakers’ first NBA Finals appearance since 2010 when the late Kobe Bryant won his fifth and final NBA title. 

LeBron James became the NBA’s all-time leader in playoff games played, at 260. He ended the night with a triple-double: 28 points, 14 rebounds and ten assists, making it his fourth time being named the NBA Finals MVP. While Michael Jordan has six NBA Finals MVP awards, James is the first player in NBA history to earn NBA Finals MVP with three different teams. He earned two other titles with the Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Although the final game may not have displayed it, the Miami Heat didn’t go down without a fight. It was in game five that they gave the Lakers a run for their money. Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler scored  35 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, holding off the Lakers 111-108 to cut their lead in the title series from three to two. It seemed like pure luck that they were able to survive this game. 

One possession stopped the Lakers from winning the championship in five games. The Heat up by one, the Lakers needed one more basket for a title. By sending three defenders at James, the Heat forced the ball out of his hand. He then found a teammate, Danny Green, alone atop the key. Having the opportunity to make a wide-open three-pointer, Green missed. 

“It was a little bit of luck that Danny Green missed that shot at the top of the key,” Jimmy Butler stated, according to The Guardian. 

The Heats’ three-pointer by Ducan Robinson, with three minutes and 13 seconds left, put Miami up by two. They continued to tie and lead a charge during the next nine scoring possessions. Back and forth they went until Butler got fouled with 46.7 seconds left. 

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra used his last timeout to buy his players a few seconds of rest.  Especially when it came to Butler, who had played all but 38 seconds of a 48-minute game. Cameras found him slumped over the baseline video boards, clearly exhausted. 

Those few seconds of rest must have been a miracle. Once Butler was back onto the court, he dropped two clutch free throws with just 16 seconds left on the clock for a 109-108 lead. 

“Every young player coming into this league should study footage on Jimmy Butler, the definition of a two-way player competing on both ends, five steals and then making those big plays down the stretch for us offensively,” Spoelstra said.

The miracle must have vanished by Game Six when Butler was joined by Adebayo and Dragic. The Heat looked exhausted. Adebayo led the Heat with 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while Butler could only conjure up just 12 points.

In the end, the Lakers claimed the title as NBA champions. There are a lot of unknowns about when the NBA will return for the 2020-2021 NBA season but league commissioner Adam Silver said last month his “best guess” is it won’t start until January 2021.