NBA Finals: The LeBron James and Anthony Davis show

The Los Angeles Lakers have had some impressive duos throughout the history of the franchise. Jerry and Wilt. Kareem and Magic. Shaq and Kobe. Now there’s LeBron and A.D.  LeBron James and Anthony Davis have only been teammates for a season, and yet the chemistry that they play with gives off the vibe that they’ve been at this for a while.

Well, that might be the feeling Western Conference teams felt during the 2019-20 NBA regular season. Certainly, the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and the Denver Nuggets are all home tuning in to the 2020 NBA Finals because of what James and Davis have been able to do on the court together. That’s pretty much anything they want to do.

Now it’s the Miami Heat’s turn to feel the pain of trying to stop the Lakers’ locomotive in James and box up the practically unguardable Davis. After James and Davis dissected them with 55 points between them in Game 2, Miami is going to need a bit of luck to contain the Lakers’ frontmen.

“It’s unbelievable the way they work for each other,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said after Los Angeles posted a 124-114 Game 2 win. “Like you said, both of them playing at such an elite level and both of them extremely determined to win a championship. You know, we are not there yet. We have a long way to go. This is a very resilient basketball team that we are playing and a team that just flew through the East with a [12-3] record. We have great respect for them. But those guys are playing at an extremely high level, and hopefully, we can get two more wins.”

In between Game 1 and Game 2, James cleared the air during a media session about why he and Davis have been able to flourish together as teammates this season.

“We’re not jealous of each other,” James flat out said. “I think that’s the best thing. In professional sports, you have guys that join forces to become alpha males. That’s what they call them. Two guys that have been dominant in a specific sport on their own respective teams, and they get together and they talk about how dominant they can be and they talk about this is going to be this and that.”

“I believe jealousy creeps in a lot,” James continued. “And that is the absolute contrary of what we are. We know who we are. We know what we’re about. We want the best, seriously, every single day, both on and off the floor, for one another. We’re just not jealous of one another. I think that you align that with respect, I think the sky’s the limit.”

The sky has been limitless for James and Davis in their quest to lead the Lakers to a possible title against the Heat. In regards to the part where James alluded that he and Davis are not jealous of each other, well that is a dynamic the Lakers have benefitted from to be nearly unstoppable in their bid to add a 17th NBA championship trophy to their hardware collection.

“Our job is not done,” Lakers center Dwight Howard said after Game 1. “We want to continue to have the energy that we’ve been having, which is very aggressive on the defensive end. On the offensive end, we want to hit first, go downhill, get to the paint and then make some great shots. We have to continue to be aggressive, continue to stay humble and focused on our mission. Everybody is locked in. We’re locked in on both ends of the floor. We’re locked in in film session and practice. I think we’re super hungry to get this championship.”

That hunger started in training camp and has been a driving force throughout the season. For the Lakers,  everything begins and ends with how well James and Davis. This season-long collaboration between James and Davis has allowed for the Lakers’ tandem to flip on the switch on who will be the dominant one on a particular night.

Sometimes it’s both players. In Game 2, Davis and James took turns to show up and show out in leading the way for the Lakers to go up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series. For the first three quarters, Davis was on fire, going for 30 of his 32 points. James did one better than his younger teammate, scoring a game-high 33 points and going for nine rebounds and nine assists as the Lakers edged to the halfway point of securing the coveted crown they have been seeking.

Adding icing on the cake, James and Davis, the first Lakers teammates to score 30 or more points in a Finals appearance since Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant) did it back in 2002, are now collectively being compared to the two NBA titans.

“Those two guys are obviously special. They are a duo that’s special together,” Davis said in reference to O’Neal and Bryant. “They are the best duo we’ve seen. Multiple championships. They both were so dominant. I know they had a little sit-down and they were talking about they were arguing because they both wanted to be so dominant, they both wanted to be great and they both wanted to win, and that’s why they jelled together outside of everything else that you might have heard that they were going through. But you know, those two guys were selfless. They both had a competitive spirit with themselves to will their teams to win. I think me and Bron are the same way.”

The beauty of the team makeup of the Lakers is that they can beat you in a variety of ways. As the Heat has discovered like the rest of the league, James and Davis are the head of this snake.

“For us the game kind of dictates itself at times,” said James. “We have to win in different ways. We’re very good at the fast break game. We understand that. But when we make our mark on the defensive end, when we’re getting deflections, we’re getting blocked shots, we’re
contesting shots either at the rim or at the perimeter or mid-range, things of that nature, which creates early offense for us, it doesn’t always show up in the box score, but when we’re active defensively, we’re an extremely good team.”

“Every game is going to be its own challenge, and we understand that. You have to win games in different fashions. Sometimes even outside your own box. But I think the great teams learn that throughout the course of a run, throughout the course of a season, and that’s what puts them in a position to compete for a championship, which we are today.”

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