Round One: The Conference Quarterfinals
To begin the NBA playoffs, the Utah Jazz faced the Denver Nuggets. The clash of the teams was closer than ever, as both teams played hard and pushed their way to a maximum seven-game series.
“Denver vs. Utah was a must-watch series because every game was so close,” sophomore Jasiah Clapp said.
In the end, Donovan Mitchell (45) and the Jazz fell short as the Nuggets won the final game 80-78 to move forward.
Next, The Toronto Raptors were against the Brooklyn Nets. Both teams carried star players, such as the Raptors’ Kyle Lowry (7) and the Nets’ Kyrie Irving (11). However, the series was nothing short of a blowout as the Raptors bested the Nets in a quick four-game series.
The next series of Round One was a contest between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. While the 76ers had star players Joel Embiid (24) and Ben Simmons (25), the Celtics proved to be a better team through a four-game sweep.
The NBA Playoffs continued with a series between the Dallas Mavericks and LA Clippers. Basketball sensation Luka Doncic (77) and the Mavericks held their ground against the Clippers. However, Kawhi Leonard (2) led the Clippers to a win in a 4-2 series.
The Los Angeles Clippers' Paul George (13) drives to the basket against the Dallas Mavericks' Boban Marjanovic in the second half in Game 5 of the first round of the playoffs at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (Ashley Landis/Pool/Getty Images/TNS)
Next, the Milwaukee Bucks faced the Orlando Magic. Even though the NBA Playoffs took place in Orlando, the matchup played out as predicted. The No. 1 seeded Bucks defeated the Magic in a 4-1 series.
Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks moves the ball up court against the Orlando Magic in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference first-round playoff series at The Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 22, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/TNS)
The following series was between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers. The series was a surprising blowout, with Jimmy Butler (22) and the Heat upsetting the Pacers in a four-game sweep.
Then, the Oklahoma City Thunder played the Houston Rockets. The Thunder came into the season notably better than expected, as the overlooked team finished the season as the No. 5 seed in the West. However, James Harden (13) and the Rockets edged their way over the Thunder in a maximum seven-game series.
The final series of Round 1 was between the LA Lakers and the Portland Trailblazers. The Lakers were ranked as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The team, which consisted of All-Stars such as Lebron James (23) and Anthony Davis (3), beat the Trailblazers in a 4-1 series.
Round 2: The Conference Semifinals
The first series of the Conference Semifinals was between the Celtics and Raptors. The series was close, as it was pushed to a maximum seven-game series. Ultimately, Jayson Tatum (0) and the Celtics triumphed against the Raptors.
Next, the Heat faced the Bucks. With reigning 2019 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (34), the Bucks were looking to make their way to the next round. However, the Heat and their star rookie, Tyler Herro (14), proved themselves to be true contenders and remarkably beat the Bucks in a quick 4-1 series.
Khris Middleton (22) of the Milwaukee Bucks drives the ball against the Miami Heat during overtime in game four of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on Sunday, September 6, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images/TNS)
Subsequently, the LA Clippers clashed with the Denver Nuggets. The Clippers, having stars such as Paul George (13) and Kawhi Leonard (2), were favored to beat the Nuggets. However, Nikola Jokic (15) and the Nuggets upset the Clippers in a close seven-game series. The upset made this matchup particularly popular amongst NBA fans.
“Seeing the Nuggets comeback from down 3-1 was awesome,” junior Christian Schmidt said. “And doing so against one of the best teams made it even better.”
To finish the Conference Semifinals, the LA Lakers faced the Houston Rockets. Lebron James, along with the Lakers, were predicted to defeat the Rockets. Furthermore, the Lakers bested the Rockets in a 4-1 series.
Round 3: The Conference Finals
The Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown (7) works against the Miami Heat's Tyler Herro (14) during the first quarter in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The Celtics won, 121-108, to extend the series. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/TNS)
In the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat played the Boston Celtics. With Butler and Herro dominating on the court and delivering huge upsets to their opponents thus far, the Celtics were to have strong competition. However, the Celtics with Jaylen Brown (7) and Jayson Tatum, stood their ground. Nonetheless, the Celtics’ stand did not last long, with the Heat commanding the court in a 4-2 series.
In the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets stood little chance against the fierce LA Lakers. Jokic helped take the Nuggets to the Conference Finals, but was outmatched by the Lakers' composition of several All-Stars. While winning one of the five-game series, the Nuggets were beat, and the Lakers pushed forward to the NBA Finals.
Round 4: The NBA Finals
The Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) is fouled by the Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler (22) while driving to the basket in the fourth quarter during Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The Heat won, 111-108, to force a Game 6. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
The anticipated Finals arrived on Sep. 30, with the No. 5 seed Miami Heat facing the No. 1 seed LA Lakers.
The Heat, an underdog that previously beat the No. 1 seeded Bucks in the Conference Semifinals, were looking to conquer the No. 1 seed of the West. The Heats’ team was filled with young, yet dominant players including Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo (13), along with the veteran Jimmy Butler. The Heat was looking to win their first championship since 2013, in which their star player was their current opponent, Lebron James.
Meanwhile, Lebron James was looking to win the finals against his former team, the Heat, in order to give himself a fourth championship. The Lakers had dominated the league all season, and were favored to win the Finals from before the playoffs had begun.
However, the most influential factor of the Lakers’ grind for victory was in memory of the former Laker, Kobe Bryant, who tragically passed in January of 2020.
The Finals began with the Lakers commanding the court with an astounding 116-98 victory. To follow, the Lakers beat the Heat in Game 2, 124-114. The Lakers were dominating in the series, and the Heat knew that to make a comeback, they would need to step up their game.
The Heat did so, beating the Lakers in Game 3, 115-104. However, the Lakers pressed forward, winning Game 4, 102-96. This brought the Lakers to a 3-1 lead, which was one win away from becoming champions.
Standing their ground with their remaining hope, the Heat fought their way over the Lakers in Game 5, winning 111-108; pushing the series to Game 5 with the Lakers having a 3-2 lead over the Heat.
Game 5 commenced on Oct. 11, and both the Lakers and Heat gave it their all. The Heat, with an objective to win Game 6 and move forward to a winner-take-all Game 7, battled on the court with the Lakers. On the other hand, the Lakers were fighting to win one final game to end the series and the playoffs with a victory. With a great performance by the Lakers on offense and defense, the Lakers prevailed to win Game 6, 106-93.
Los Angeles Lakers players, including LeBron James, center, celebrate the NBA Championship after defeating the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020 in Orlando, Florida. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Although falling short, there was no doubt the Heat were a competitive and skilled team as well, especially Jimmy Butler.
“Butler was my favorite player to watch in the Playoffs and Finals because [in two games] he was the only player to out-score Lebron in points, rebounds, and assists,” sophomore Sam Silverman said.
However, with their dominating performance throughout the season and playoffs, the LA Lakers were crowned NBA Champions. This was their 17th championship, tying the Celtics for most NBA Championships by a franchise.
Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis celebrates the NBA Championship in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020 in Orlando, Florida. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
The Finals MVP was given to Lebron James, who proved to be a dominant scorer and defender. This was James’ fourth Finals MVP.
Through tough matchups and great executions of hard work and athleticism, the 2020 NBA Finals concluded with a victory for the Los Angeles Lakers.
See the video above for a highlight reel of some of the best plays from the 2020 NBA Playoffs (via NBA)