The (46-19) Los Angeles Lakers have taken their talents to South Beach to do battle with the suddenly collapsing (43-21) Miami Heat while the Heat appear to be surprised that they’re playing under a microscope.
The Lakers bring with them the proven ability to win under pressure as well as the revenge factor. They have not forgotten about the Christmas Day debacle and the squad is ready to return the favor at American Airlines Arena tonight.
The Heat are looking at this game as the perfect opportunity to right the ship. They’re viewing this game as a chance to get back on track. The Lakers have an opportunity to send a message to the Miami Heat that you are ‘not ready’. Prove to the Heat that they do not have the size or length to win four games out of seven against them.
Today’s game is a tremendous challenge for the Purple and Gold. They’re playing playoff caliber basketball and the Miami Heat are in the midst of a virtual free fall. After their latest loss, the Heat have now lost five straight amid reports of crying in the locker room. They’ve failed to reach 100 points in each game of their losing skid.
The Lakers need to continue to play stellar defense and hold the Heat under 100 points. The Heat are the 12th NBA team to have a 12-game winning streak and a five-game losing streak in the same season. The Lakers come into today’s contest as the league’s hottest team, winners of eight in row.
The Lakers have to stop the dribble penetration of both Lebron James and Dwayne Wade as well as dominate in the painted area. The Heat want to get into the open court and run. It is imperative that the Lakers control the tempo of the game, take care of the ball and limit their turnovers. They have to get back in transition to stop the easy baskets. They also need to limit the Heat to one shot per possession and cut down those second chance points.
In the half-court offense the Heat run a lot of screen and roll plays, isolation plays for Lebron James and Dwayne Wade. They have some good three-point shooters and just like in the Spurs game, the Lakers have to quickly rotate out to open shooters. The Lakers needs to extend their defense beyond the three-point arc.
More than likely Lebron James and Dwayne Wade will be the Heat’s leading scorers. The Lakers need to take away Chris Bosh and make the other players non-factors.
The Trailblazers bench outscored the Heat bench 41-8 in their previous game. The Lakers bench will have plenty of opportunities to make an impact and the members of the second unit need to knock down shots.
Chris Bosh picked the wrong game to complain about getting the ball more in the post. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol are going to alter that theory a bit. Bynum, who has 50 rebounds and 12 blocks in the last three games, will have another busy night.
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, R. Artest, P. Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Heat: M. Chalmers, D. Wade, L. James, C. Bosh, E. Dampier
Tip-off: 4:00 PM PST
- Los Angeles: TNT
- Miami: TNT
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Miami: 940 AM WINZ (Mike Inglis & John Crotty)
- Matt Barnes (Right Knee Surgery) Probable
- Theo Ratliff (Left Knee Surgery) Out
- Devin Ebanks (Stress Fracture, Left Tibia) Out
- Derek Fisher (Sprained Left Elbow) Probable