Who: Los Angeles Lakers (16-10) and Miami Heat (11-14)
What: A Second Trip to Staples Center
When: Monday, December 10, 2018, 10:30PM EST (Again, West Coast Games Run Late)
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Why: Win Streak?
Injuries: Whiteside Out (Birth of a Child!), Waiters out indefinitely
With another two-game winning streak under their belt, the Heat head to LA to face LeBron and the Lakers, for the second of two battles this year. This is another opportunity for Miami to hold a three-game win streak for the first time this season.
The Heat’s last game was a blowout win against the Clippers on Saturday, 121-98. They came alive in the fourth quarter, and turned a close game into an offensive showcase.
The Lakers defeated the Grizzlies in Memphis 111-98 on Saturday as well, behind superstar showings from LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma.
The previous matchup between these two teams was a 113-97 victory for LeBron’s Lakers in Miami, where LeBron embarrassed the Heat in a stadium where he feels pretty familiar.
The most notable point of this game is that this may very well be LeBron and Wade’s last tilt, with Wade on his way out and the Heat seemingly out of playoff contention (right now, at least).
The Lakers have a high-powered fast break offense that can overwhelm any team quickly. The Grizzlies normally allow less than 100 points per game, even against the NBA’s best. The Lakers, as I mentioned, tallied 111. Defensively, cover your man and resist the urge to double team LeBron. If any Heat player leaks out on defense to cover LeBron, that leaves a wide array of shooters open. Kuzma, Pope, Hart, Stevenson, and to a lesser extent Lonzo Ball, are all guys the Heat don’t want to leave open.
Offensively, run the other direction. Play a fast-paced offensive game. The Lakers don’t like to run back on defense, and that can definitely bite them. This is a double-edged sword, however, because pushing the tempo is trying to beat LA at their own game. If the Heat push on offense, they have to get back on defense.
With Whiteside out (and possibly returning Wednesday), Bam Adebayo vs. Javale McGee is the matchup to watch. McGee is in the running for Most Improved Player at AGE 30, and Bam is a young gun coming off a couple of fantastic games on this road trip. McGee is strong and athletic, so Adebayo will have his hands full, but the real challenge is trying to get past McGee’s solid interior defense.
The Lakers turn the ball over a lot, and actually turn it over more than the Heat, 15.7 to Miami’s 15.5. The Heat need to that weakness against them. Try and cover full-court passes like a cornerback covering a receiver, and work to deflect bad passes from some of their younger players.
Final Score Prediction-119-110 Lakers
The Lakers take a couple of days off, then face the Rockets in Houston on Thursday.
The Heat head to Utah to continue their road trip on Wednesday.