Pre-Game Report: Lakers Back on Road to Oppose the Miami Heat

Los Angeles Lakers (10-5) at Miami Heat (9-4)
5:00 PM PST, January 19, 2012
American Airlines, Miami, Florida
Radio: 710 AM (English), 1330 AM (Spanish)

Heat Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Mario Chalmers
SG: James Jones
SF: LeBron James
PF: Chris Bosh
C: Joel Anthony

Key Reserves: F Udonis Haslem, G Norris Cole

It’s been a rough start for the Lakers on the road, and it looks to get tougher with trips to Miami and Orlando on back-to-back nights. First, the Lakers look to improve on their 1-4 road record against the suddenly cold Heat, who will wait to make a game-time decision on Dwyane Wade.

Frontcourt: The identity of the Miami Heat is all about the “super friends”. First there is LeBron James, who is averaging 29.8 points per game, second to Kobe’s 30.8. If that is not enough to describe the impact, perhaps his 7-of-9 shooting in the third quarter of Tuesday’s historic victory is. The hot shooting led to 17 points, while dishing three assists. It erased a 17-point deficit, and led to a sizable 22-point victory. James finished the night with 33 points and 10 assists. Aiding James was fellow super friend Chris Bosh, who contributed with 30 points and eight rebounds. He is averaging an even 20 points on the season, and is consistent as they come. His off-nights see him score just a few points less than his average indicates.

Backcourt: The Heat will hope for Dwyane Wade to suit up tonight as he provides averages of 19.6 points, 5.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. Wade’s PER is 20.03, 40th in the league. His replacement, James Jones, is rated 10.97, nearly half of Wade’s. In his starting in place of Wade, Jones was 0-for-3 from the field. His three points came on free throws. He is good for about four points a game. This could be a tremendous aid for the Lakers. Wade’s running-mate is Mario Chalmers, who will slide into the point guard position. Chalmers is more than capable of being a third-leg for the Heat, but is not likely to be. He is more likely to score just above ten points per game, while providing four assists. Watch out for Norris Cole off of the bench. The former Cleveland State product plays like a talent from a mid-major program would, with much to prove and with unlimited upside.

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Fun Facts:

  • The Lakers lead the overall series against the Heat by a margin of 29-17.
  • The Lakers have held LeBron James to 27.3 points per game, his eight-lowest average against every team in the league.
  • The Lakers look to hold the Heat under 100 points for just the fourth time this season. Miami leads the league in scoring with 107.1 points per game.

Keys to a Laker Victory:

Play Tough Defense
If there is one thing that a high scoring team does not like, it is a rock-solid defense. The Lakers allow 89.4 points per game; fifth in the league. That kind of pressure will lead to frustration, and eventually pressure on LeBron.

Limit the Second-Chance Points
With missed scoring opportunities come chances for rebounds. The Lakers lead the league with 45.6 rebounds per game. Properly utilizing their twin seven-footers will make for no match down low against Bosh and center Joel Anthony. Assume that all offensive boards will be put back in, and just like that, the Heat will build momentum.

Don’t Let Gimmicks Get in the Way
The match-up to many will read Kobe versus LeBron when in fact it needs to be all business. This is a golden opportunity to show that this team does not need to rely on it’s home court to perform well.

Prediction: Lakers 105, Heat 103

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