(Image credit: Photo by Oscar Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Who: Los Angeles Lakers (8-7) and Miami Heat (6-9)
What: The King’s Return to Miami
When: Sunday, November 18, 2018, 6 PM EST
Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
Why: To Play Some Basketball
Injuries: Goran Dragic questionable with knee, James Johnson Probable (!!!!!), Dwyane Wade out with fatherhood, Waiters out indefinitely
The Heat’s last game was a 91-99 loss to the Indiana Pacers, read my recap here. They had a lead early, lost said lead, and never came back. Josh Richardson was amazing, and the Heat continued to turn the ball over way too much.
The Lakers lost the the Orlando Magic with a score of 130-117 on Saturday, so this will be their second night of a back-to-back tour of Florida. Yes, you read that right. LeBron and the Lakers let up 130 points to the Orlando Magic.
The two teams haven’t met yet this year, and the season series was split 1-1 last year. Though, that doesn’t really matter, because there’s this player that used to be on the Heat that plays for the Lakers now.
Defensively, please stop LeBron James. That’s it. With James Johnson back, look for him, Winslow, and Richardson to have the honor of guarding one of the greatest players to grace a basketball court. Force him to be a passer, try and keep him somewhere around 20 points, and make sure he doesn’t get going. Force their weaker shooters, like Lonzo Ball, Lance Stevenson, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to produce offensively.
The match-up to watch is definitely Hassan Whiteside vs. JaVale McGee. McGee is having an unprecedented season with the help of LeBron, and Whiteside’s defensive prowess should lead to an interesting match-up. If Whiteside can out-hustle McGee, Whiteside will win the battle.
Offensively, the spacing is still weird. The Heat continue to space the floor in a manner that leads to turnover after turnover. The return of veteran presence James Johnson, as well as the return of Dwyane Wade next week, should sort of ground the team a bit. Look for turnovers to take a little bit of a dip, but don’t expect the Heat to claw their way out of the NBA’s bottom ten in turnovers unless something drastic happens.
The Lakers lead the league in transition frequency, and are fourth in total transition points. In simple terms: Limit. Transition. Keep the Lakers in the half court set, and cover their shooters. Easier said than done with good passers like James and Ball, who can start a fast break with a well-placed outlet pass. It’s sort of like covering wide receivers in football, something the city of Miami has trouble doing.
Final score prediction- 105-98 Heat
Despite having a basketball god, the Lakers are not that good. They started the year off 0-3, and just lost to the Orlando Magic last night. If the Heat cover their shooters and work to out-hustle the Lakers, then it really shouldn’t be a problem.
The Lakers go on to play in Cleveland on Wednesday, which should be a lot of booing followed by a blowout of the worst team in the NBA.
The Heat go on to play the Brooklyn Nets again on Tuesday in Miami, looking to make it a second straight win against the team.
The next Heat/Lakers match-up is December 10 in Los Angeles.