After it appeared the Los Angeles Lakers had hit rock bottom, Mike D’Antoni said their season was starting last Sunday.
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Since their new season has started, the Lakers have gone 2-0 to improve their record to 17-21.
However, those two victories came against the Cleavland Cavaliers and the Milwaukee Bucks. Those teams are not an automatic victory by any means, but they are nothing like the team the Lakers will Thursday.
Tonight at Staples Center, the Miami Heat (25-12) seek to put an end to the Lakers two game winning streak.
Even with a disappointing season from the Lakers, this match up is still a must see game for many reasons that include seeing four of the top ten players in the league (Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade).
Pau Gasol has missed the last six games due to a concussion, but is active and will come off the bench for tonight’s game.
Is there anything to really say? James is arguably the best player in the league, and he is having another MVP worthy season by leading his team in points, rebounds, and assists (26 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists). James may have taken his talents to South Beach for more support around him, but the fact is that he is still the motor of the team. Metta World Peace is known for his tough defense on top players like this, and this is a challenge that he will be more than ready for. World Peace must make things difficult for James, but most importantly, he must make sure James alone does not win the game.
Since injuring his shoulder, Howard has come back with a vengeance averaging 26.5 points, 15 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks a game. To say the Heat struggle against big players is an understatement. The Heat are the worst in the league in rebounding, and simply don’t have to size or talent to match up against top big men. With all that being said, Dwight Howard must be the focal point for the Lakers. If he stays out of foul trouble and dominates the game like he should, the Lakers will have a great chance to win the game.
Key to a Lakers Victory
As previously stated, the Heat have extreme difficulties in matching up against bigger teams. Mike D’Antoni isn’t afraid to show his displeasure with post-up plays and playing big, but if he wants to win tonight he won’t try to make it a track race, but rather a battle down low. In order to beat the Heat, the Lakers must attack them down low and win the battle in rebounds. If they control the rebounds and take advantage of their size, they will control the game.
Projected Starting Line-Ups
Los Angeles Lakers
PG: Steve Nash
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Earl Clark
PF: Metta World Peace
C: Dwight Howard
PG: Mario Chalmers
SG: Dwyane Wade
SF: LeBron James
PF: Udonis Haslem
C: Chris Bosh
The tip-off is at 7:30pm PST on TNT.