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Danny

Lakers at HEAT Official Game Thread and Preview

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(Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann)

The Miami HEAT host the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday afternoon at AmericanAirlines Arena. The HEAT have won four straight games and sit at 33-14 and atop the Eastern Conference. The Lakers are 24-27 and 3.5 games out of the playoffs in the West. Tip off is set for 3:30 PM.

1: What does Pau Gasol's injury mean to the Lakers?

Couper Moorhead: Before Gasol's injury, the most important thing for the Lakers as they attempted to get back into the playoff picture was to figure out what to do with him. Were they going to get him a consistent role on the team, possibly in a staggered-minutes system with Dwight Howard so Gasol and Steve Nash could run well-spaced pick-and-rolls? Or were they going to try to find good value for him on the trade market? Either way, they had to find a solution, and while they don't have to concern themselves with that question now with Gasol likely out past the trade deadline, that loss of value could be a critical blow to those playoff hopes?

Danny Martinez: Besides the actual play on the floor, Gasol’s injury makes a thin frontline even thinner. The Lakers came into the season with three players likely to play most of the front court minutes in Gasol, Dwight Howard and Jordan Hill. Hill is out for the season, Howard has dealt with a myriad of injuries and now Gasol is out for an extended period. The Lakers are now having to play Earl Clark, Robert Sacre and even Antawn Jamison at center for stretches. It’s tough. On the floor, Gasol’s absesnce hurts because he’s such a valuable player. He’s struggled some this season, but Gasol is still one of the more talented big men in the league. His creativity and shooting will be missed. The healthy bigs can fill some of the roles, but none are as complete as Gasol.

2: LeBron said he doesn't buy Kobe as a distributor. Do you?

Couper: I buy it only in the sense that Kobe has always been entirely capable of being a facilitator -- he's just that talented. But he doesn't seem to be wired that way, and it's ridiculous to praise someone for changing their identity when there is nothing more than four or five games of evidence to back up that claim. This was a storyline more than anything else, but that shouldn't be an indictment of Bryant's abilities.

Danny: I don’t. While I think Bryant has the skills to be a facilitator, he doesn’t really use them on a consistent basis. Bryant likes to score and is great at it. While the Lakers won some games with Bryant facilitating, it likely wasn’t the reason the Lakers were winning. Their defense and schedule were the real reasons. Bryant is as creative as they come, but he chooses to use that creativity to score. I think his track record proves he knows what he’s doing.

3: If Chris Bosh is ready to play, does Shane Battier return to the bench?

Couper: Most likely, but then again it's impossible to know what exactly Erik Spoelstra's timeline is for this season. He's been starting Udonis Haslem and bringing Battier off the bench primarily in order to preserve Battier for the playoffs, but at some point he's probably going to want to get his team ready for the postseason. The chances of that time coming before the All-Star break, however, are unlikely. But you never know.

Danny: Yep. I don’t see why he wouldn’t. In the postseason, when things matter, I think we’ll see Battier inserted back into the starting lineup. It creates so many offensive mismatches that I don’t think the HEAT will be able to resist the urge. But in February, things aren’t do-or-die, playing “small” or positionless can be draining, particularly for Battier. There’s no need to submit him, and others who slot up a position, to extra wear and tear. We know what Battier adds when in the starting lineup. We also know it’s not necessary for the HEAT to use that weapon to win regular season games. There’s no need to push it right now.

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Super team Lakers cant play defense cept Dwight

After seeing that dunk fest in the 1st meeting, I expect pretty much the same from that especially no towering 7 footer Gasol in the area... lol as if he was a factor anyway :D

2 LA teams beatdown is what I'm hoping

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Well you never know, I admit you're on a streak, but don't get complacent here. Just continue where you left off, play your current game, guys...

Ah yes, watch the refs, too,...

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Anything short of a complete a$$ whipping would be criminal.

Enough with the refs already. They miss calls on both sides, anyone that thinks they pick on us in particular, are wearing 'homer goggles'. There are plenty of people on the outside looking in that think we get the benefit of the whistle. I'm calling it even.

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Yes, this game another opportunity to laugh at my friends who are lakers fans! And try to push them further from the postseason :) I'm expecting LeBron, Wade to do it again, it seems when Bosh is out they play with more urgency and it's just a nightmare for opposing teams (similar to the Indiana series)

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But hopefully Bosh can come back, although I would still like them to have that same urgency for tomorrow's game. And LeBron usually gets up to play against Kobe anyways, it should be a good one

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im expecting Miami to actually hit their outside shots this time and win by at least 20 no joke.

it's not a joke. the Heat all have veteran shooters even if w/o ray. they just have to set better shot selections especially from corner and utilize Lewis and JJ more.

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But hopefully Bosh can come back, although I would still like them to have that same urgency for tomorrow's game. And LeBron usually gets up to play against Kobe anyways, it should be a good one

Bosh has like a cold flu like not actually a flu. other than that i dunno what's up but I think he'll definitely play.

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Let alone Kobrick Bryant scores 81 points with 0 asst and by then we will still won by 30.

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im expecting Miami to actually hit their outside shots this time and win by at least 20 no joke.

The lakers dodged the bullet last meeting. Our guys were just off from outside. Like u expect our shots to fall outside

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There are teams that the Heat just arent motivated to play against. This is NOT one of those teams, no matter what their record is.

Please blow this team out!

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They actually chose to take away our corner 3. Didn't anyone read Coup's great article? But, if they choose to give it to us this time - our cast better knock them down. If not, we can bring POTUS in to spot up.

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I hope this is a blow out from the opening tip, Lakers have been a joke all season long and now is when they want to make their run hope the Heat don't play down to the competition.

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EGPT IS SAD CAUSE CHRISTIAN GOT FIRED FROM WWE FOR SUCKING

Spoey!

But he's not fired. He's gonna come back soon from his injury. This thread just sucks lol.

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