2020: Year of the El-A Clásico NBA Finals?

One of the many NBA Playoff proposals floating around is a re-seeding of the 16 Playoff teams according to their record instead of limiting them to their respective conferences. If that happens, this is what it would look like:

With that idea in mind, what are the juiciest match-ups to come from that new format?


There’s this one meme that’s been going around ever since this year began spiralling off course.

You know the meme. Yeah, that one.

The “My Plans vs. 2020″ meme expresses how everything has gone off its rails ever since. I think it’s pretty safe to say that none of the plans we made – or were even considering to make – were safe.

The NBA had their plans ruined as well. As they are trying to pick up the pieces to finish the season, us basketball fans might have stumbled upon a silver lining.

After ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said this on air:

“I really think there’s a good chance this is only going to be a 16-team playoff. If that is the case, it opens up the possibility for something that Adam Silver has long wanted, which is to seed 1 through 16 in the postseason and go that route. There’s no excuse with travel or anything like that.”

When I figured out what the bracket would look like, my idle mind raced toward the possibilities.

Since we’ve been away from live NBA action for so long, it’s easy to get all too excited about even the smallest storylines in these potential matchups.

OMG, there’s a rematch of the 2012 NBA Finals in the first round”

Dude, imagine if the Grizzles were still in Vancouver! Their opening matchup against Toronto would have been the first ever All-Canadian Playoff series!

THE NUGGETS AND PACERS BOTH USE THE COLOR YELLOW

But guys, let’s take a look at the bigger picture here one second. Both LA teams who engineered  their way to championship contending teams in a few swift offseason moves are now on different sides of the bracket instead of being in the same conference.

If this format is actually how the NBA comes back into our lives, there’s a possibility that we could witness the first ever “El-A Clásico” with an NBA title on the line.

Photo from Getty Images

Obviously, both teams have their work cut out for them to get there in the first place.

The Lakers open up against what might be a severely under-seeded Nets team, in case Kevin Durant is healthy and ready to be back in action. Even if KD decides to chill, it will be LeBron going up against Kyrie Irving which is going to be fun one way or the other any time that happens. Adding to the fun is the fact that the last game that these two teams played before the break… was against each other in a game which Brooklyn won.

If the Lakers get through that opening hurdle, they shouldn’t have much of a problem through the next two rounds as the top-seeded team on this side of the bracket. The defending champions Toronto Raptors will still be in their way and they are the only team in this Playoff format that the Lakers haven’t beaten this season… but they’re just not the same this year.

And it’s LeBron against Toronto. We’ve seen enough of how that ends in the past.

As for the Clippers…

They shouldn’t have too much trouble getting past the first two rounds.

Luka Doncic (and Dallas) still needs some growing up to do.
If they face the Sixers, Kawhi can just crouch-sit around the corner of the court and leave them crying. Boston would be a slightly tougher matchup for the Clippers, seeing as they’ve played in three overtime sessions across two encounters.

But the biggest barricade that could shatter my dream of an El-A Clásico NBA Finals (yes, I’m sticking with that) are the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks are the No.1 seed in this imaginary bracket for a reason. They are really, really good. Giannis is a Greek God. The Clippers haven’t been able to beat the Bucks in both tries this year. This won’t be easy.

Still, the Clippers have Kawhi and the man led the charge to take down Giannis last year. I have faith that he will be able to do so again.

Photo from Getty Images

That faith is fueled by the desire to witness an NBA Finals series between these two LA teams. That will only happen if all the pieces of the puzzle, as mentioned above, fall into place.

It might seem so distant now, but trace your feelings back to the start of the season when Anthony Davis was (finally) traded and Paul George/Kawhi joined forces. Dig deep to recall the buzz inside you, thinking about that potential Western Conference Finals.

Imagine LeBron versus Kawhi for the first time in the same conference, fighting for the rights as the King of LA. Put Paul George and Anthony Davis into the mix and be mind-blown by the possibilities of the insane two-man tactical games.

Heck, throw in the fact that it will be a battle between the Morris twins after the Lakers got Markieff late in the season with Marcus already with the Clips.

Now, imagine all of that – in an NBA Finals setting.

We’ll be most likely left with one of these two possible ending scenarios:

If Lakers win, LeBron gets his FOURTH title with his THIRD team. Or
if the Clippers win, Kawhi gets his THIRD title with his THIRD team all the while beating LeBron for two of the three

Another storyline if the Lakers win is that Anthony Davis gets his first title and everyone forgets about how he forced his way out of New Orleans. On the flip side, if the Clippers win, Paul George gets his first title, everyone forgets about how he forced his way out of Indiana.

Another fun scenario is if the Lakers win, the motley crew of Dwight Howard, Javale McGee, Dion Waiters win their first title. If the Clippers win, Patrick Beverley, Reggie Jackson and Paul George win their first title.

(Either way, it’s funny in these scenarios because they will have won a championship before Russell Westbrook)

Photo from Getty Images

If we end up with these two teams in the Finals somehow whenever the NBA resumes action, all of that will be on the line. There’s no doubt that it will be tightly contested with the talents lined up on both teams, but the major draw of this potential clash is just what is at stake.

A Clippers-Lakers Finals would never have been the way the NBA planned the ’19-’20 season to end. With the way the league was formatted, it was just plainly impossible.

But after being pitched the curveball that is the year 2020, the NBA finds themselves in a potential situation where an El-A Clásico could very well end up being the title determining series.

Photo from Getty Images

Might as well meme it, right?