Lakers Reach the NBA Finals for the First Time in 10 Years, Will Face the Heat

Behind a 38-point triple-double from LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers dispatched the Denver Nuggets in 5 games (4-1). James also had 16 rebounds and 10 assists, scoring 16 of his 38 points in the 4th quarter. He was automatic down the stretch converting mid-range jumpers, fadeaways, and a dagger 3-pointer. Fellow superstar, Anthony Davis, accumulated 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists, as the Lakers won the Western Conference Championship and advanced to the NBA Finals.

Additionally, there were important contributions from the likes of Dwight Howard, Alex Caruso, and Danny Green to wrap up the series. Howard, who started in place of JaVale McGee, had a vital defensive presence in the contest and was essential in slowing down Nuggets star Nikola Jokic. He had 9 points (3-4 FG) and 9 rebounds, in 35 minutes. Despite picking up a flagrant foul for an elbow on Paul Millsap, Howard kept out of foul trouble throughout. Something that he has struggled with in previous contests.

Alex Caruso led the Lakers with 8 points in the first quarter on a perfect 4-4 shooting. Even though he only scored 3 more points in the game, his defensive effort late-on contained the Nuggets and assisted in handing the purple and gold the victory.

Lakers' President Jeanie Buss Has Special Words of Appreciation for Magic  Johnson After Team Reaches Finals - EssentiallySports
(Image/Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

Danny Green had been struggling throughout the series, after regaining form against the Houston Rockets in the second round. Even though he was shooting just 28.6% from the field in games 1-4, Green stepped up with a huge 3 with a couple of minutes to go in Game 5. He also had a pair of important blocks, including one in the fourth on Jokic. On the night Green had 11 points (2-4 3P) and converted 3-4 from the free-throw line. The most free-throws he’s hit in a game since a win on December 16, 2019, against the Atlanta Hawks.

Even with a third-quarter slip that let the Nuggets back into the game, the Lakers cruised to a 117-107 win to stamp their ticket to the NBA Finals for the first time in 10 years. The very next night, the Miami Heat brushed aside the Boston Celtics in 6 games, to set up a Lakers-Heat finals matchup.

The LeBron James and Anthony Davis matchup versus Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo will be a fascinating one. But the title could be won through whose role players step up, with the likes of Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, and Kyle Kuzma all waiting in the wings to contribute to a Lakers triumph. Whilst, on the other hand, Tyler Herro, Jae Crowder, Goran Dragic, and Duncan Robinson will be looking to fire on all cylinders to take the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy back to Miami.

Featured Image Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images


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Could Moves Be Made For Terrence Ross, Wayne Ellington?

Philadelphia 76ers v Orlando Magic
(Image/USA Today)

Many think that the Lakers should pull the trigger on a trade for New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis, although acquiring Davis would most certainly mean clearing house and relinquishing future flexibility. Future flexibility referring to the maximum salary slot currently available for the summer of 2019, circa $41.6 million. Money that could be used on a free agency class that boasts names such as Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, and so on.

Would it be worth giving up numerous young players and assets to acquire a generational talent in Davis, who down the line will be eligible for a ‘super-max’ contract (up to 35% of the salary cap)? Some think so, some think not. It appears that President of Basketball Operations, Magic Johnson and General Manager, Rob Pelinka want to maintain financial flexibility to take a punt on the loaded 2019 free agency period. In the hopes of landing a second superstar.

Both Magic and Pelinka have made it public and stressed the importance of the Lakers remaining patient, trusting the process, with the aim of long-term success. However, if this is the case, this should not prevent the Lakers from improving the roster further this season by bringing in talent on expiring deals. After missing out on Trevor Ariza to the Washington Wizards, the front office may be shopping around to add wing depth.

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(Image/USA Today)

Terrence Ross: 

The 27-year-old of the Orlando Magic is currently averaging a career-best 13.3 points per game, off .436% shooting. Whilst adding some vital scoring from three-point land, Ross’ strong play this season could very well make him an appealing addition for Magic Johnson and Pelinka.

Orlando Magic are competing for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference at present time, as a result it may take a high price to persuade Orlando to part ways with Ross mid-season. The former top-10 pick is on a $10.5 million expiring deal and fits the criteria for bolstering the current roster whilst maintaining salary cap flexibility.

Terrence Ross is certainly an intriguing piece that would fit well in Los Angeles, but the expectation remains that Ross could be out of the Lakers’ range.

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Wayne Ellington:

Another scenario being thrown around is a possible reunion with sharpshooter, Wayne Ellington, who represented the Lakers during the 2014/15 season. The 31-year-old is a near career .400% three-point shooter who may sit as a more realistic option.

Ellington is averaging 8.3 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists for the Miami Heat this season and has found himself in and out of the rotation throughout December, due to personal reasons and more recently, illness. There is no doubt that the Heat guard could be a more viable option for the Lakers acting as a floor spacer alongside LeBron James. Various reports have suggested that a 1st round draft pick is what the Heat desire to move him on via trade.

Much like Terrence Ross, Wayne Ellington is currently signed to an expiring $6.2 million contract, which fits the measure of maintaining the Lakers’ long-term plans. Is it worth parting ways with a 1st round draft pick to bring Ellington back to Los Angeles before the upcoming February 7th trade deadline?

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Other names on expiring contracts linked have been the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Taj Gibson and the Brooklyn Nets’ DeMarre Carroll. There is no doubt that more names and trade scenarios will be reported between now and the trade deadline, as the Lakers look to strengthen their roster to make a serious playoff push.


By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)