Lakers Take Their Talents to South Beach

Photo by Mike Ehrmann | Getty Images

The (10-5) Los Angeles Lakers are in the home of the largest concentration of international banks in the United States and home to several large companies both nationally and internationally; Miami, Florida to face the (9-4) Heat.

Tonight’s marquee NBA match up at American Airlines Arena is another game that the Lakers had circled on their calendar upon the release of the NBA schedule. The Lakers played well in their last trip to South Beach, but did not execute down the stretch or come away with a victory.

Kobe Bryant and the Lakers really wanted the win badly and were collectively upset that they let one slip away. The loss bothered Kobe Bryant so much that after 98% of fans left the arena he came back out on the court to work on his shot.

The Lakers enter tonight’s road game after a hard fought three-point win over the defending champion Mavericks. The Heat snapped a three-game losing streak in a come from behind win over the Spurs. The Heat swept the two-game season series against the Lakers last year after splitting the series in the 2009-2010 season.

The purple and gold are 5-5 in their last 10 meetings with the Heat. In Miami, the Lakers are 3-7 in their last 10 games. The last Laker win over the Heat on 12/9/10 in L.A. came on another miraculous Kobe Bryant one-foot, running three-pointer off the glass shot at the buzzer.

Kobe Bryant has amassed four 40+ points scoring games, but is averaging 31 points per game. In 23 career starts against the Heat, Kobe is averaging 24.6 points per game. Lebron James is suffering from flu-like symptoms and his participation in this contest will be a game-time decision.   In 16 career games against the Lakers, Lebron James is averaging 27.3 points per game.

The Heat, are running a lot more and could destroy the Lakers in the open floor. To combat this fact, L.A. has to limit Miami’s chances to run and get back in transition. The Lakers have played playoff caliber defense all season and it has kept them in every game this season.

The Lakers game plan tonight has to include establishing Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant in the post and attacking the Heat on the low block. Bynum, Gasol and Kobe could dominate in post isolations and cause trouble for the Miami defense.

The Lakers are the top rebounding team in the league and have to own both the offensive and defensive boards tonight. A huge part of tonight’s game plan for L.A. is predicated on offensive execution and scoring in the half court offense. The Lakers have a better chance of controlling the tempo of the game if the Heat’ have to take the ball out off the inbound and start their attack from 94 feet away.

The Lakers, who rank 5th in the league in points allowed have to do a solid job of defending the pick-and-roll play, defend, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, rebound and quickly rotate out to open shooters. The Lakers have to play with a high energy level, take better control of the ball to eliminate turnovers, limit the Heat to one contested shot per possession.

The Lakers bench depleted due to injury, but has to be a factor. The reserves will have opportunities and have to knock down shots. Look for Pau Gasol being the primary scorer with the second unit. The offense will flow through him and Gasol although still dealing with an injury has to be much more aggressive, play big and attack the basket.

Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, M. Barnes, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Heat:
M. Chalmers, J. Jones, L. James, C. Bosh, J. Anthony   

Tip-off: 5:00 PM PST

Television -

  • Los Angeles: TNT
  • Miami: TNT

Radio -

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
  • Miami: 940 AM WINZ (Mike Inglis & John Crotty)

Injuries -

Lakers:

  • Derrick Caracter (Torn Lateral Meniscus, Left Knee) Out
  • Kobe  Bryant (Torn Lunotriquetral Ligament, Right Wrist) Probable
  • Pau Gasol (Sprained Right Shoulder) Probable
  • Steve Blake (Costochaondral Fracture) Out
  • Josh McRoberts (Sprained Big Toe) Probable

      Heat:

  • Dwayne Wade (Sprained Right Ankle) Day-to-Day
  • Eddy Curry (Hip) Day-to-Day
  • Lebron James (Flu-like Symptoms) Day-to-Day

 

 

Jeff Little is the pre-game writer for LakerNation.com. Follow him on Twitter.