There’s a real chance that the Philadelphia 76ers could be facing the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2020 NBA finals and it would be great for the fans.
The last time the Philadelphia 76ers appeared in the NBA finals was back in 2001 when an Allen Iverson led Sixers squad was greatly outmatched by a loaded Los Angeles Lakers team. That Lakers teams was led by the super star duo of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. Now that the Lakers agreed to trade for Anthony Davis, both Philly and Los Angeles have cores that have the potential to reach the NBA finals this upcoming season.
Obviously both teams still have moves to make. The Lakers need to fill out the rest of the roster, probably with shooters. The Sixers need to re-sign their key free agents in Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and J.J. Redick. If both teams can retain their key free agents and build the roster out to create decent depth, then there’s a real path for both teams to reach the finals.
For the Lakers, there may not be a better duo than LeBron James and Davis. On top of that L.A. managed to keep Kyle Kuzma out of the Davis trade. That trio will make a deep playoff run and if they manage to add quality depth, then they will be a true contender.
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It helps the Lakers that the Golden State Warriors will be missing star players in Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant (assuming that they re-sign with the Warriors as free agents) due to injury for most if not all of the season. Outside of a healthy Warriors team, there’s no franchise in the West that could clearly outmatch the duo of James and Davis. L.A. could very well reach the finals next season.
The Sixers were one lucky shot away from possibly beating the eventual NBA Champions in the Toronto Raptors. The Sixers will have to retain their key free agents and fill out their bench, but they could possibly be the best team in the Eastern Conference next year.
Like the Sixers, all the top teams in the East have key players becoming free agents this offseason. The Milwaukee Bucks have Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez becoming free agents, Toronto has Kawhi Leonard and the Boston Celtics have Kyrie Irving. If those free agents leave their respective teams, it could put the Sixers at the top of the East.
Then there’s the development of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to consider this summer. It’s possible that Simmons develops a jumpshot and Embiid improves his conditioning. If those two things happen, it could make the 76ers a favorite to reach the finals.
If both the Lakers and the Sixers make the finals next season, it would a great matchup. Davis and Embiid are clearly the best two big men in the NBA. Seeing them matchup for a championship would be awesome for the league. The last time two great big men matched up in the NBA finals was in 1995 when the Houston Rockets and Hakeem Olajuwon beat a young O’Neal and the Orlando Magic.
In four matchups, Embiid has won the matchup against Davis three out of four times. Below are their stats for those four matchups.
Embiid has done a great job defending Davis in the past and it would be a great matchup in a series to watch. Then there’s the dynamic of Simmons versus James. Both players are very similar in build and skill set. The only difference is that Simmons lacks the outside shot that would put him on James’ star level. Simmons has won the majority of matchups against James, but James has dominated the series from a stats standpoint.
If both teams met in the finals this upcoming postseason, it would be the fifth time in NBA history that the 76ers and Lakers would matchup for a championship. The record of these two teams in the finals is 3-1 in favor of the Lakers.
There’s a real shot that the Philadelphia 76ers and the Lakers could matchup in the NBA finals next season. It’d be a great series due to the great matchups and the history that these two teams share in the finals. Surely it be an NBA finals that fans across the league would be want to see.