Tightest Lakers Battle of NBA Finals: LeBron James vs. Anthony Davis

LeBron James, left, and Anthony Davis of the Lakers.

Getty LeBron James, left, and Anthony Davis of the Lakers.

For Lakers center Anthony Davis, just getting a chance to play in the NBA Finals is a new experience. In seven NBA seasons with the Pelicans, he had never been to the conference finals, let alone the Finals. Two games into the series against the Heat, though, Davis is not only handling the big stage nicely, he is probably the leader to be named the series MVP.

His biggest competition: fellow Lakers star LeBron James, who has been the Finals 10 times and has three MVP trophies.

It is only two games—and the banged-up Heat could yet have a comeback in them—but the race between Davis and James is a statistically tight one, should the Lakers hold on to their 2-0 series lead and win the title.

Here’s how the two stack up, statistically, thus far:

Player Points Rebounds Assists FG% 3-FG% Turnovers
Davis 33.0 11.5 3.0 63.4% 60.0% 2.0
James 29.0 11.0 9.0 54.8% 41.7% 1.0

‘No Jealousy’ Between Anthony Davis and LeBron James

Of course, one of the benefits for the Lakers is that tension between James and Davis has been minimal. James (at 35) is eight years older than Davis and the two have developed a mentor-mentee bond during their first season together.

Lakers fans will remember the last time they had a big man-wing combo as dominant as James and Davis—Shaquille O’ Neal and Kobe Bryant. Those two had almost nonstop issues between them, though, which added a layer of drama and intrigue to the Lakers’ early 2000s-era championships but also paved the way to the ultimate breakup of the team.

You won’t find the kind of petty jealousies that dominated those Lakers among thing bunch. As James explained:

Jealousy and envy [have] killed a lot of great things, not only in sports, but in general. If you’re able to just throw your egos to the side but continue to bring that confidence of what you’re trying to do — not saying it’s that easy — but for us, it’s that easy when it comes to our relationship. We’re not jealous of each other. 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. … I believe jealously creeps in a lot, 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.

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Lakers Have Dominated Nearly Every Minute of Games 1 & 2

If the sky can limit the Lakers, that will mark one thing it can do that the Heat certainly can not . It’s not just that the Lakers are up by two games, it is how they have gotten to this point that is most impressive.

The teams have played eight quarters and five were won by the Lakers. The Heat won two quarters and another was tied—the final quarter of Game 2, which saw the Lakers with a big lead in garbage-time mode.

The Lakers held a lead of 32 points in Game 1 and 18 points in Game 2. Of the 96 minutes played, Miami has had a lead for only 10:42 and the Heat have never held a lead in this series in the second half.

That level of dominance from the Lakers conjures up memories of the way the Shaq-Kobe Lakers repeatedly barreled their way through the playoffs. As much as being the Final MVP conversation is nice for James, the fact that he is in consideration as an heir to Bryant and O’Neal is enough for him.

“To be in the conversation with those two guys, myself and Anthony, myself and AD, is just very humbling,” James said. “Because I know I grew up watching those guys. It’s very humbling that we can be even mentioned with those greats.”

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