The 2019-20 NBA season is slated to return July 31 at Walt Disney World in Orlando. It will do so after a four-plus month hiatus due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic plaguing the world.
A total of 22 of the league’s 30 teams will return to action with each squad playing eight regular-season games before the playoffs. There’s an opportunity for a play-in tournament in both conferences.
Though, the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks remain the favorites to meet in the NBA Finals. That has been the case since the season started what seems to be eons ago. These are among the two teams we’d love to see go up against one another in the championship round.
It’s in this that I look at the five 2020 NBA Finals matchups we’d love to see.
Los Angeles Clippers vs Toronto Raptors
How fun would this be? Reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard going up against the team he led to the title last season. It’s also not an unrealistic possibility at this point. Los Angeles restarts the campaign with a 44-20 record, the second-best mark in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, Pascal Siakam has led his Raptors to a 46-18 record.
Siakam is now the face of the Raptors. He’s joined by Fred VanVleet to form one of the most-underrated duos in the game. Meanwhile, the Clippers attempted to build a super team by acquiring Paul George to pair up with the above-mentioned Leonard. This Finals matchup would be all sorts of sexy.
Dallas Mavericks vs Milwaukee Bucks
An argument can be made that Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic will be the two faces of the NBA moving forward. The Greek Freak earned MVP honors last season and has his Milwaukee Bucks with the best record in the entire Association with the campaign set to resume next month.
On the other hand, Doncic was in the midst of an MVP-caliber sophomore season before being slowed down by multiple ankle injuries. The 21-year-old guard is averaging 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists on the season. The idea of Giannis and Doncic going up against one another in Orlando come October has to be seen as appealing to the masses.
Houston Rockets vs Philadelphia 76ers
Think about it for a second. Two teams that have not lived up to expectations this season. Two of the most-talented squads in the NBA. A four-month layoff to get things right. Both the Rockets and Sixers entered the 2019-20 campaign with legitimate title aspirations before a number of wide-ranging issues plagued both teams.
Even then, there’s nothing not to like about the idea of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid going up against James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Two differing styles. Two head coaches firmly on the hot season. While this matchup remains highly unlikely, it would be a blast.
Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics
A rivalry renewed? The Lakers and Celtics have met in the Finals a whopping 12 times in their history. A dozen NBA Finals matchups between these two historic franchises. After a near two-decade hiatus, Boston and Los Angeles met in the Finals back in 2008 with Boston coming out on top. They would go up against one another two years later with Kobe Bryant earning his final championship as a member of the Lakers.
A season that started with Los Angeles as top-end title contenders took a dark turn after Mr. Bryant himself was killed in a helicopter accident back in January. The season was then suspended less than two months later. What better way to cap off a strange, dramatic and emotional 2019-20 season than by seeing these two go up against one another?
Los Angeles Lakers vs Milwaukee Bucks
This is pretty much the Finals matchup everyone wants to see. LeBron James still proving himself to be among the world’s best at the ripe age of 35. Giannis setting out to replace him as the face of the Association. Last year’s MVP going up against a player in King James most have hand-picked to come away with the hardware this season.
Prior to the campaign being suspended, these two seemed headed on a collision course. Sure it would be much more exciting if these two were able to play at their home venues. Even then, an empty arena in Orlando wouldn’t necessarily halt the excitement of what could be a Finals matchup for the ages.