The Lakers are looking to bounce back after falling to Damian Lillard and the Blazers on Sunday night. All things considered, they played pretty well but couldn’t overcome Damian Lillard’s 17 points in the fourth quarter. Kobe has rested the past two games and is a game-time decision for tonight’s game. Tonight the Lakers will face the post-LeBron Heat for the first time this season. While the Heat have struggled without LeBron, they did earn a win in Staples Center on Sunday against the Clippers. Hopefully the Lakers can put things together and earn a win against the middling Heat.
Frontcourt: Due to LeBron’s departure, Chris Bosh has been forced to take on an expanded role especially on offense. He’s averaging a very respectable 21.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and a surprising 1.5 three-pointers per game. Always seen as the least of the former “Big Three,” Bosh is showing that he shouldn’t be taken for granted. While he starts at center, he may shift to his more natural power forward position if Hassan Whiteside can break into the starting line-up.
The young seven footer from Marshall University has had trouble finding a permanent spot in the NBA since being drafted in 2010. Whiteside certainly turned heads on Sunday with his 23 points, 16 rebound performance against the Clippers. Expect to see him play more minutes than starter Chris Andersen tonight. Andersen is better coming off the bench anyhow – he’s a high energy guy who can rebound and defend the rim well.
The former Bull, Luol Deng, was acquired in the off-season to help fill the void of LeBron James. Deng has struggled with consistency this season and averages just 13.9 points per game. He’s a plus defender, but will need to do more if the Heat hope to make a playoff run this year.
Backcourt: Dwayne Wade has carried the Heat’s backcourt this season with 22.8 points and 5.6 assists. He’s managed to stay relatively healthy and is very deadly in the paint. While he’s not as quick as he used to be, he has a variety of post-moves and uses his body very well to draw contact and get to the free throw line. Without Wade, the Heat would probably be sitting near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Outside of Wade, the other Heat guards have been terrible. Cole and Chalmers have split time at point guard and neither one has been good. Chalmers lack of shooting ability really hurts the team and he’s only chipping in 10.7 points on 40.2 percent shooting. Cole hasn’t been much better with 6.8 points on 38.8 percent shooting. The Lakers should look to exploit the deficiencies of Chalmers and Cole in tonight’s game.
Keys to Victory:
Exploit The Heat’s Point Guards: The Lakers point guards haven’t been great this season, but they have played better than their Heat counterparts. Price and Lin should be able to get the best of Chalmers and Cole. Price showed great defensive effort Sunday night against Lillard, but couldn’t quite keep up. If he brings that same intensity tonight he should be able to stop Chalmers or Cole. On offense the Lakers guards should look to penetrate and kick to their teammates for easy looks.
Defensive Intensity: The Heat lack firepower outside of their big two – Wade and Bosh. If the Lakers turn up their defense they should be able to stifle the Heat’s offense. The Lakers rank second worst in the league in defensive rating – they give up 109.1 points per 100 possessions. The main reason the Lakers have struggled so much this year has been largely due to their horrendous defense. They’ll need to dial up their defense if they want to start winning more consistently.
Miami Heat (16-21) at Los Angeles Lakers (12-26)
7:30 PM PST, January 13, 2015
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SN
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Heat Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Mario Chalmers
SG: Dwayne Wade
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Chris Andersen
C: Chris Bosh
Key Reserves: C: Hassan Whiteside PG: Norris Cole SF: Danny Granger
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Ronnie Price
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Ed Davis
C: Jordan Hill
Lakers Player’s Reactions To Damian Lillard (Monster Dunk, 34 Points)