Lakers vs. Heat Preview: Team Looking To Upset Defending Champs

Lakers vs. Heat Preview: Team Looking To Upset Defending Champs


Young James

Despite the extremely rough start to this year’s Grammy Road Trip in Phoenix, the Lakers have turned things around with two wins followed by a heartbreaking loss to the Bulls. Now the Lakers look to climb above .500 on this road trip against a seemingly vulnerable Miami Heat team.

These teams squared off on Christmas Day with the Heat prevailing 101-95 in Los Angeles. But the undermanned Lakers gave the defending champs everything they could handle, and nearly stole the victory in the final minutes.

The Heat have struggled recently, going 3-4 in their last seven games, and struggling in wins against the Charlotte Bobcats and Boston Celtics. The team has struggled to maintain their high level of play with superstar guard Dwyane Wade on the sidelines. Wade has missed the past three games for the Heat as the team looks to keep him healthy for the playoffs.

This entire team is built around the unmatched skills of LeBron James. The reigning MVP is once again turning in another amazing season and it’s getting to the point where some are beginning to take his game for granted. James is averaging 26 points to go along with nearly seven rebounds, and seven assists while shooting 58 percent from the field.

James is also one of the league’s toughest defenders, and has basically assumed the power forward role for this team next to the criminally underrated Chris Bosh. Bosh averages 16 points and continues to play at a high level, even if he is overshadowed by his teammates. Shane Battier rounds out the frontcourt and continues to provide solid shooting and help defense, even as he gets older.

Wesley Johnson will undoubtedly draw the impossible task of trying to corral James at the outset of the game. Johnson has struggled offensively leading to a minutes decrease, but his defense will be necessary this game so expect to see him a little more. Rookie Ryan Kelly has been playing great and will need to continue his excellent shooting and solid rebounding against a Heat team that can be had on the boards.

One of the keys to this game, however, will be the play of Pau Gasol. Gasol has finally stepped his game up, averaging 20 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks in the month of January. He must outplay Bosh on both ends in order for the Lakers to have a chance.

Whether or not Dwyane Wade plays will obviously have a huge effect on this game. He is one of the 10 best players in the league and his absence makes things much tougher on the Heat. If he doesn’t play, veteran Ray Allen will step into the starting lineup. Allen is still more than capable of lighting up a scoreboard with his shooting.

At point guard is Mario Chalmers, who is both a solid defender and a streaky three-point shooter. He is the weak link of the starting lineup, but in tandem with Norris Cole, whose athleticism can overwhelm most point guards, they create a tough duo.

Jodie Meeks continues to give the Lakers very solid play at the shooting guard position. He has no fear on the court and hounds players with his effort on the defensive end. He doubles as the team’s backup point guard when Kendall Marshall steps out of the game.

Speaking of Marshall, the former Tar Heel has to get his offense going again. He has shot 40 percent or worse in four the last five games and while his assist numbers are still outstanding, his offense will be needed in this game. Of course with Nick Young, there is never a lack of offense and his scoring off the bench will never be more necessary than against a top defensive opponent like the Heat.

Keys To A Lakers Victory
Dominate The Backboards: Ever since this Heat team was put together, they have always had one glaring weakness – rebounding. The Heat rank dead last in the NBA in rebounding and that lends itself well to the Lakers in multiple ways.

If they can continue their recent defensive play in the half court, they should be able to limit the Heat to only one shot per possession, which is something they have struggled to do against many teams. This will also allow the Lakers to gain multiple opportunities for themselves on the offensive end. With Gasol playing so well, and Jordan Hill on the floor, the Lakers must take advantage of the edge they will have upfront.

Keep Turnovers Down: Rebounding will mean very little however, if the Lakers can’t take care of the basketball. The Lakers’ turnover woes have been well documented, and the Heat force more of them than any team in basketball.

James, Wade, Chalmers, Battier, and Cole all excel at reading the passing lanes and once the Heat get out on the break, they are impossible to stop. These fast break dunks are what gets the crowd into the game and pumps the Heat up. The Lakers would be wise to take care of the ball as much as possible or the game could get out of hand.

Hot Three-Point Shooting: One of the reasons the Lakers were able to keep the first game competitive was because of their three-point shooting, making 14 in total. To pull off the upset on the road, the Lakers will have to match, if not exceed their Christmas Day performance.

The Heat don’t lack shooters with Allen, Chalmers, and Rashard Lewis all deadly from deep. But the Lakers crew of Meeks, Young, Johnson, Kelly, and Marshall have to be on-point from deep. The three-point ball is the equalizer in basketball and the Lakers must win that war.

Los Angeles Lakers (16-26) at Miami Heat (30-12)
5:00 PM PST, January 23, 2014
American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Heat Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Mario Chalmers
SG: Dwyane Wade/Ray Allen
SF: Shane Battier
PF: LeBron James
C: Chris Bosh

Key Reserves: PG: Norris Cole PF: Chris Andersen SF: Michael Beasley F: Rashard Lewis

Lakers Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Kendall Marshall
SG: Jodie Meeks
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Ryan Kelly
C: Pau Gasol

  • Al Haldie

    This should be fun tonite – watch and enjoy… LAKERS AND HEAT…

  • Gregory Choa

    No Dwyane Wade tonight

  • LakersHeatBeef

    Come on Heat come on biotches lets play.Kendall,Swaggy P will go off tonight.

  • LakersHeatBeef

    Nick Young will drop 30 points on the Heat tonight and Kendall Marshall will have the first 20 points +20 Assists game,yeah balling.

  • Quote The Raven

    Haters can hate all they want i hate you right back much more than you hate me,is my motto and it should be the Lakers motto this season.Anyways this MDA guy is good player developmental coach,he is not winning games and yet the player developing for the Lakers don’t seem like serious game changers the Lakers spoiled fan base keeps on holding hope for another Magic or Kobe,that gets developed let me tell you folks that will never ever happen with this current roster.MDA is in charge of this rebuild,his job is to stick with the young players and to never give up on them and to instill confidence in them.Best case scenario maybe some long term starters will get developed this season.

    MDA has done fine in Phoenix developing young studs but in LAL he has not completed this task of developing players and in New York he had issues developing players but he did fine with a couple players.Only time will tell though.Kendall Marshall has the highest ceiling on the roster.Kelly is good.

    But you guys do have a magnificent young Point Guard in Kendall Marshall and maybe in 5 years he will be the top guy in the NBA,also Ryan Kelly can become a Dirk type of Forward but only time will tell.Nick Young is a scoring machine.Wes looks good most nights.Jordan Hill is a banger.Sacre tough guy.

    So quit hating on the players on the team they have right now.Quit whining and complaining about the youngsters on the team.Take your losses and learn from it.Every franchise in sports has losing seasons sometimes,Lakers are no different.Get a clue already this is not the past it’s the NOW and that’s it.

    Get used to losing and having young players,nothing can change it unless you change your stance on the team,Paul George and Roy Hibbert were developed and so was Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and James Harden and Lin.Patience is needed and you hating on Nick,Kendall,Ryan is not cool at all.

    • C*HarrisTHEboss


      • The Professor


        • C*HarrisTHEboss

          • The Professor

            You live in you’re mothers basement trolling LN members.

          • C*HarrisTHEboss

            Just a bag of cliches arent we? and thumbing up your own posts proves who the real troll is.

  • LakersHeatBeef

    The Lakers desperately need a big man defensive player that rebounds and is a enforcer willing to fight for his team,well the guy some of you wanted got released by the Spurs.Malcolm Thomas is worth a 10 day contract it’s a no brainer.

    Malcolm Thomas Waived By Spurs

    Jan 23, 2014 2:01 PM EST

    Malcolm Thomas has been waived by the San Antonio Spurs.

    Thomas was originally signed by the Spurs on Dec. 3 and appeared in one game with the team, posting 2 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks in 14 minutes vs. Milwaukee on Jan. 19.

    Thomas appeared in 10 games with the Spurs D-League affiliate Austin Toros, averaging 15.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.40 blocks.

    Via RealGM Staff Report

  • LakersHeatBeef

    Tonight i am pumped up as much as ever.I hate the Heat they so need a beating.

    Go Lakers!Shock the world on national TV!You’re time to shine!Lets win it!

  • The Lakers Tank Commander

    The Lakers will lose tonight.I guarantee a loss to Mia.Lakers record 16-27 Tank!

  • Daryl Peek

    If the team can protect the three point line against the Heat and not let LeBron and Battier create too many turnovers, the Lakers have a shot in this game.

  • Richard

    Not much the Lakers or any team can do defending Lebron’s game. Try to play a very good Solid basically fundamental Defensive Game against the Heat. Protect the paint, limit the other Heat players and get some fast break baskets, limit turnovers and mistakes. GO LAKERS