Every week, our staff writers chime in on the trending topics, rumors and storylines surrounding the Lakers. In today’s State of the Nation, they predict the outcome of tonight’s showdown with the Miami Heat. That game gets underway tonight, from Staples Center, at 7:30pm PT.

The Lakers are riding a two-game win streak, and the Heat are fresh off a blowout win in Golden State last night. How will it go down at Staples Center tonight, and who comes out on top? 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
Photo Credit: Getty Images

John Gaffer // @jewelslamo:

Lakers win. They should have their entire starting 5 healthy and ready to play tonight. The Heat played last night, so there will be a fatigue factor involved. The Lakers big guys should dominate the boards and give the rebounding-challenged Heat big problems in that area. Bottom line is that every game is a must win for Lakers as they try to steal a playoff spot.

Belal Abdelfattah // @Belal_A:

The Lakers make a statement with a big win tonight. Dwight dominates the boards and let’s everyone know he and the Lakers are finally back.

Bummi Anderson // @BummiNAnderson:

Lakers win tonight. Despite the road win vs. Golden State, the Heat are struggling on the road and haven’t been consistently successful in Staples Center (vs. Lakers or Clipps). Lakers win tonight because Howard’s size will be a huge problem for Miami. Let’s not forget, the Lakers were built to beat Heat.

Felipe Amaral // @F_Amaral:

This is gonna be a great battle. The Lakers will use home-court advantage to control the pace of the game and get a victory that will speak volumes about how they want to approach the rest of their season.

Alex Lambeth // @AlexLambeth:

The Heat. Fresh off a big win in Golden State, as well as LeBron hitting the 20,000 points mark, Miami’s athleticism and outside shooting will prove too much for the Lakers. Expect a physical game and don’t be surprised if the Heat explode from three-point range tonight.

Alik Ourfalian // @alik_o:

Lakers. So far this season, the Lakers have come up big in big games (at Golden State, vs. New York), and they’ve finally started to play as a team. With Gasol back, the Lakers’ size is no match for Miami.

Garrett Garcia // @GarrettGarcia:

Miami. I don’t want to say this, but Miami’s big 3 will take down The Lakers fairly easily this evening. Riding the momentum from a powerhouse performance in Golden State, The Heat will find little to no resistance from a struggling Lakers team.

Ashkan Kargaran // @aakargaran

This game will come down to one man’s performance: Dwight Howard. If the Lakers make an emphasis on feeding Dwight early and often as they did against Milwaukee, they will beat the Heat. If Dwight is ineffective, the Heat will blow this team out. This is a must-win game for the Lakers (so are the rest of the games from this point forward) so I’m going with the Lakers and their new-found defensive effort to beat the reigning champs

Photo Credit: Getty Images
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Anna Gonda // @AnnaLBG:

Dwight Howard’s looking healthier and Pau Gasol might be back, so although two games is a small sample size, the Lakers appear to be headed somewhere good TOGETHER and that (in addition to their size advantage over Miami) should get them a win tonight. This is, of course, provided early foul trouble doesn’t come into play for the home team.

Robert Benitez // @beeb0:

Tonight’s game solely depends on Dwight Howard and the Lakers defense. Lakers win the size match up easily but the Heat are a much more athletic team then the Lakers. Dwight will need a big game down low and need to be at his best defensively. I love my Lakers, but I think Miami might be too much to handle tonight.

Sam Shaw // @Sammyz78

Miami. The Heat own the head-to-head match-up in the Lebron era and the team is motivated to salvage a poor showing on the road. This would be a huge victory and confidence booster for the Lakers, but I don’t see it happening with the roster still in poor health. Despite the Lakers having the advantage of home court and an extra day of rest, Miami will show it is still the better team at this point in the season.

James Cypert // @JamesCypert:

The outcome of tonight’s game will rely entirely upon how D’Antoni wishes to coach it. This year’s Heat team loves to play small and athletic, and LeBron and company have shown that they can run older teams off the court. The Heat’s one weakness? Rebounding. Ranked 29th in the league, teams with strong frontcourts (Utah, Chicago, Indiana) have all destroyed Miami on the glass leading to their 5-6 record over their last 11 games. Should D’Antoni focus on feeding Howard and the returning Pau Gasol all night, the Lakers should finish the evening with their best win together as a starting unit.

Matevz Rojc // @MatevzRojc:

Lakers. However, it all depends on Kobe. First of all, he shouldn’t take more than 20 shots. Miami has a big problem defending on the low post and LeBron will probably guard the power forward position, so Bryant has to pass the ball down low to Howard or Gasol. Second of all, the Lakers can’t try to outrun the Heat, because they simply can’t. I expect the Lakers to win, largely thanks to Dwight (who will drop 30 and 12 again) and Miami’s supporting cast will have an off night.

Melvin Taylor // @PastPossible30:

The Lakers will pull off a huge upset as the Miami Heat fall in a close game. Kobe will come into the contest with a mindset of finding his teammates first and help Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace find easy shots to begin the game. The Lakers will out rebound the Heat and will lead the game in second chance points by not rushing shots but patiently finding the open man and getting buckets.