After the successful acquisition of All-Star center Anthony Davis and other quality veterans last summer, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers became one of the top favorites to bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the 2019-20 NBA season. However, though they currently own the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference, the Lakers’ road to winning the 2020 championship title won’t be easy. Aside from the presence of Kawhi Leonard’s Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference, there are also several powerhouse teams in the Eastern Conference that could prevent James from winning his first championship ring as a member of the Purple and Gold.
When talking about teams who could represent the Eastern Conference in the finals, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks are currently considered as the heavy favorites. However, according to Jason Reed of Fansided’s Lake Show Life, the Bucks aren’t the toughest opponent for the Lakers. Rather, he thinks the Boston Celtics would give them more trouble.
In his recent article, Reed cited several reasons why he thinks the Celtics, not the Bucks, are the biggest possible challenge for James and the Lakers. Compared to the Bucks — who mostly rely on Antetokounmpo — Reed said the Celtics have the “most weapons.” Reed thinks the Lakers would have a hard time defending their wing against Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Gordon Hayward.
“The biggest defensive hurdle that the Los Angeles Lakers are going to have to overcome against the Celtics is defending their wings. The Celtics have Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward that all can attack and make plays happen off the wing. The Lakers have one great wing defender in Danny Green, but they are not going to be able to pull Anthony Davis out and guard another wing without creating a huge mismatch down low. LeBron James is going to have to step up and play great defense, which he can do, but it is tougher than being able to put AD on Giannis.”
Aside from having a very talented roster, Reed also claimed that Boston has a better head coach than the Bucks. Milwaukee Head Coach Mike Budenholzer might be more experienced and have a better playoff record than Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens, but Reed believes the latter has a better chance of “cracking the code” of James and Davis.
In the potential matchup against the Lakers, the key to beating them is to destroy the rhythm and limit the production of James and Davis on the offensive end of the floor. However, though Stevens has the likes of Brown, Tatum, and Marcus Smart to guard James, he currently doesn’t have a player that could completely stop Davis from dominating under the basket. Boston may currently have Enes Kanter, Daniel Theis, and Robert Williams III manning the center position, but none of them has built a good reputation on the defensive end of the floor.
As of now, it’s still hard to tell if the Celtics are really the toughest NBA Finals opponent for the Lakers. Before talking about playing in the finals, however, they should first focus on beating Antetokounmpo and the Bucks in the Eastern Conference.