There were no analysts predicting that the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks would reach the NBA Finals. Heck, even heading into the NBA Playoffs it did not seem likely for many. Some predicted the Lakers would make a run while the Knicks would fall in the first round to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But there is a reason why we play the games. Fast forward two weeks after the last day of the regular season and there is actually a path in which the NBA’s two largest markets could square off in the NBA Finals.
It certainly is not the most plausible matchup in the NBA Finals this year but there is a possibility. Let’s break down how this historic NBA Finals matchup (which hasn’t happened since 1973) could happen.
Why a Lakers-Knicks NBA Finals is suddenly conceivable:
New York defeated Cleveland on Sunday afternoon to spark the realization that this could actually happen. The Cavaliers were favored over the Knicks in this first-round matchup but with the win on Sunday, the Knicks took a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Anything can happen with the series going back to Cleveland for Game 5 but the Knicks are certainly in control. New York advancing to the second round of the NBA Playoffs is the much more likely outcome in the series.
And if the Knicks can do that then they could have an even easier matchup awaiting in the second round. The Miami Heat currently lead the Milwaukee Bucks 2-1 in their playoff series and there is no guarantee that Giannis Antetokounmpo will return from his back injury.
The Knicks match up greatly against the Heat and would be favored in a series. On the other side of the bracket, the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers would be engaged in a hard-fought battle that could suck the life out of the winner.
New York won’t be favored against either the Celtics or 76ers but anything can happen in the Eastern Conference Finals, especially after a potential seven-game battle between Boston and Philly.
Meanwhile, the Lakers also have a favorable potential second-round matchup. Los Angeles has to get past the Memphis Grizzlies first but with a 2-1 series lead, the fanbase has confidence. If LA can beat the second-seeded Grizzlies then the team will probably be favored in a round-two matchup against either Northern California team.
Just like the Knicks, the Lakers will benefit as the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns will be going to battle on the other side of the bracket. Suddenly, both Los Angeles and New York could be the much more well-rested team in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Neither team would be favored, hence why a Lakers-Knicks NBA Finals is not the most likely outcome, but it is incredible to think that this historic matchup is actually conceivable.