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Danny

HEAT at Lakers Official Game Thread and Preview

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(Photo Credit: Andrew Bernstein)

The Miami HEAT wrap up their six-game road trip in Los Angeles, where they take on the Lakers. The HEAT are atop the Eastern Conference with a record of 25-12. The Lakers are battling for the final playoff spot out West at 17-21. Tip off is set for 10:30 PM.

1: If Pau Gasol plays, does this game change that much if he comes off the bench instead of starts?

Couper Moorhead: Considering how much the HEAT have played with two big men lately, either pairing Chris Bosh with Udonis Haslem or Joel Anthony, Gasol likely won’t see any particular matchup advantage if he gets to run his own bench unit for a few minutes. But remember, Gasol is returning from a concussion, not a knee injury as he was dealing with earlier in the season. He has struggled to find his place in the team’s system, but he should at least be, in theory, rested and ready to go.

Danny Martinez: I don’t believe the game changes a whole lot if he starts or comes off the bench. The more important thing would be minutes played. The HEAT have gone “small” in doses, so for the most part the extra size wouldn’t be an issue. Gasol has struggled some this season, but he’s still an excellent player and passed. His brother, Marc, was able to dissect the HEAT with quite a few bog-to-big passes. Pau is certainly capable of doing the same, whether he starts or comes off the bench.

2: Is Chris Bosh going to get Dwight Howard duties all by himself?

Couper: He won’t. Howard may not look completely like himself, though he’s getting there, but he’s still more than a one-man job. Bosh, Haslem and Anthony need to be fully aware of Howard at all times when a shot goes up, and the rest of the team needs to be ready to dive to the rim from above the free-throw line and get the rebound as Howard is taken out of position. In the past, if Miami wants to play small, the key to attacking Howard has been with LeBron James and Bosh. Use Bosh to get him out of the paint and isolate him for box-outs and then James takes advantage of the space and cleans up the loose balls. It’s a lot to ask for an entire game, but it’s the Lakers.

Danny: Nope. Matchups are rarely, if ever, one-on-one anymore, especially in HEAT games. In the HEAT’s defensive system, players are constantly helping all over the floor, hedging drives and cutting off driving lanes. As such, everyone will have a role in guarding Dwight Howard. When he and Steve Nash run a high pick-and-roll, and there will be many, HEAT wings will be crashing down on Howard, looking to thwart his opportunities at the rim. Bosh will get the bulk of Howard duties, and will have to defend him straight up a handful of times, but he’ll have help.

3: Should it matter to Miami who Kobe Bryant, who has been defending some point guards of late, defends?

Couper: Kobe hasn’t been an elite defender for years, despite his reputation, but he has reached a different gear in a couple of recent games defending ballhandlers. It’s probably more than he should be taking on given how much the offense is relying on him, for better or worse, and if Bryant gets constant Wade or LeBron duties, the HEAT will likely involve him in as many pick-and-rolls as possible to wear him down. Of course, if you’re attacking Bryant in that way you aren’t attacking Steve Nash – pretty vulnerable defensively himself – but if Nash is on Mario Chalmers or Norris Cole, it’s probably best not to force the issue unless you get transition opportunities. The HEAT might change their usage of certain plays given matchups, but they aren’t going to change the way they play.

Danny: No. Bryant will guard many players over the course of the night. Bryant’s defensive reputation no longer matches up with his actual prowess, and against many of the HEAT wings he’ll be at a significant disadvantage. Opponents have been attacking Bryant off the ball as he’s been focused on the ball. While he’s on the floor, the Lakers defense is susceptible to back door cuts, something Dwyane Wade has featured heavily in recent games. Who Bryant defends doesn’t matter all that much to the HEAT, for they have the upper hand in almost any matchup.

4: There have been a number of comparisons to the 2010-2011 HEAT for this Lakers team. How many of them play true?

Couper: There’s no comparison to the sort of attention the HEAT were getting three seasons ago, but in practice the Lakers have played out as a more extreme edition of that Miami squad. An early losing streak for Miami that lasted a week or two went deep into December for the Lakers. People foolishly wanted Erik Spoelstra fired early in the 2010 season, but the Lakers actually did change coaches and their entire offensive systems. Miami lost Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem for most of that season; the Lakers have been without Steve Nash and Pau Gasol for much of this season. There’s a lot of bad luck involved in what has happened to the Lakers, but they’re in a deeper hole than Miami ever was.

Danny: I guess if you really squint, you can see the similarities. The HEAT probably garnered a larger amount of attention than the current Lakers squad, but there’s no shortage of coverage for this Lakers team. In both situations, there were questions early on as to whether the team would be able to succeed. In the HEAT’s case, and early struggle was wiped out by a 22-1 stretch. These Lakers haven’t been as fortunate, suffering a litany of injuries and narrow losses. Through 38 games the Lakers are 17-21 and outside the playoff picture. The HEAT were 29-9 at the 38 game mark and leading their division. The comparisons aren’t totally off base, but they also aren’t totally apt.

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Happy B-Day D-wade!!

Lakers...going to be...if...I guess that what blogs are for

In any case regardless of the outcome of today's game it should not be a sad day for Dwade. He is a pro basketball player living the dream, has multiple businesses ongoing that has him preparing very well for his future. I'm sure you know who Gabrielle Union is...he has three wonderful kids, plays alongside arguably one of the best athletes/players in the history of the game and plays on a team that is trying to repeat as NBA Champions. From my vantage point the outcome of the game will do very little to sour Dwade's day...

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Happy Birthday Dwyane Tyrone Wade!!

This will be a great game to watch and I feel the Heat will come out victorious because Wade and Bron will be just too much for L.A

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Let's get this win!

Winning in Staples always feels good for some reason.

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Last year Wade fouled out and LeBron could not beat the team by himself. (Bosh missed the game due to a death in his family) This year, and after that Warriors romp, it looks like it's that time where we make the Lakers look like Jokers.

Also, lets win so we don't have to have that annoying Lakers fan trolling the forums any more. lol

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Got a feeling we will lose because the Lakers are finally starting to play better and they are desperate for a big win and we're probably tired from last night. This may just be their perfect storm, or we could just go out and rape them. I'm hoping for the latter.

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Kobe is going to outplaying D-Wade tonight. I really have a bad feeling about this game. I know Howard is going to have a field day against Christina Bosh and might probably set a new career high in rebounding.

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If BOSH hits his jumpers consistently,and MIAMI's help defense is at a high level, we HEAT fans should have an enjoyable weekend. RIO and WADE should attack Howard early to try and get him into foul trouble. It too will help if the three-ball is falling. Kobe will get his,just take everyone else out of the game....TEAM HEAT since '88!

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I just passed by the LA LAKERS discussion board and they are all hyped up for the game. To secure a win MIA HEAT has got to rebound rebound cleaning the glass.

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@IraHeatBeat: With Dexter Pittman back for this game, Jarvis Varnado and Josh Harrellson inactive for Heat, as their 10-day contracts are about to expire.

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@IraHeatBeat: With Dexter Pittman back for this game, Jarvis Varnado and Josh Harrellson inactive for Heat, as their 10-day contracts are about to expire.

Spo is going to bust out the secret weapon tonight!?

Dexter Pittman

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Spo is going to bust out the secret weapon tonight!?

Dexter Pittman

Yup. Dwight's not gonna know what hit him....literally.

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      Photo Credit: Gary Dineen
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