Lakers Vs. Heat Game Preview & TV Info: Austin Reaves & Rajon Rondo Out With Hamstring Injuries
Austin Reaves, Lakers
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

A trip down the memory lane comes next for the Los Angeles Lakers, who are hosting the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.

Thinking about the clash, it’s difficult to stop one’s mind from drifting back to the 2020 NBA Finals matchup between the Lakers and the Heat — which brought Los Angeles the long-awaited 17th championship. It evokes the images of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and L.A.’s brilliant role players dispatching the injury-ravaged Miami in six games.

That should serve as a wake-up call for the Lakers.

Not only will they play without James — Miami’s former superstar — this time around, who is still nursing his abdomen injury. They still lack the chemistry that the 2019-20 group boasted. And, they are far from owning a defense even remotely as tight-knit and fearsome as that of the title-winning Lakers from two years ago.

Meanwhile, the Heat are arguably stronger than when they battled L.A. in the Orlando bubble.

They allow their opponents to make the least field goals (35.8 per game) and register the lowest field goal percentage (41.6%) in the league. They give up the second-fewest rebounds (41 per night) but collect the most boards (49) this season and rank just behind the Utah Jazz in second-chance points (16.9).

They are the NBA’s sixth-best defense and the third-best offense, which summed up translates into the third-best net rating (9.0) overall, behind the Golden State Warriors and the Jazz.

Jimmy Butler is playing perhaps the season of his career, averaging 25.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 2.1 steals. Considering L.A.’s personnel lacks a star wing defender, it makes for particularly bad news for the hosts.

Tyler Herro is following suit, scoring career-high 20.3 points per night and shooting 40% from behind the 3-point line. Herro has been dealing with a back injury as of late but is still expected to suit up in this one.

Moreover, the Heat now have a proven lockdown perimeter defender in Kyle Lowry, who will keep close to the Lakers’ sharpshooters and pester them throughout the night.

Injuries can make Lowry’s tasks easier as Austin Reaves and Rajon Rondo will miss the game, both struggling with hamstring strains.

Although, head coach Frank Vogel has flirted with the idea of moving Anthony Davis to the center position again, he will likely hold off on the change until after the clash with Miami. The Lakers will need extra presence in the paint to protect the rim, therefore DeAndre Jordan is odds-on to keep his place in the starting lineup for now.

Besides, Russell Westbrook seems to be developing some promising chemistry with Jordan, often leading to easy dunks for L.A.

Aggressive drives into the paint for either quick lay-ups or kickback passes toward the perimeter should also be a part of the Lakers’ game plan, particularly if Miami successfully prevents them from moving the ball around smoothly in the halfcourt.

And above all, L.A. should find a way to dictate the game’s tempo. The Lakers lead the league in pace — while the Heat rank 28th — and score the fourth-most points off turnovers.

If they can crank it up a notch and harass Miami in transition, Los Angeles can find itself in a good position to win their second game in a row.

Lakers (6-5) vs. Heat (7-3)

7:00 p.m. PT, Nov. 10, 2021
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Kent Bazemore
PF: Anthony Davis
C: DeAndre Jordan

Key Reserves: Carmelo Anthony, Malik Monk, Dwight Howard, Wayne Ellington

Projected Heat Starting Lineup:

PG: Kyle Lowry
SG: Duncan Robinson
SF: Jimmy Butler
PF: P.J. Tucker
C: Bam Adebayo

Key Reserves: Dewayne Dedmon, Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin

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