Preview and Chat: The Miami Heat

Kurt —  January 15, 2007

Webber to Detroit. Not a shock, but Webber made his choice. It wasn’t money or effort on the Lakers part (Kobe and Mitch talked to Webber over the weekend). The issue was playing time — in LA he’d have to fight for it, in Detroit he’ll get a lot more right from the start, particularly at the five.

Overloading the TiVo. The Lakers, The always entertaining drunken acceptance speeches at the Golden Globes. Two more hours of Jack Bauer. Man, that’s a lot of television I want to watch crammed into one night, so if the Lakers could win this in a blowout and let me turn the channel early it would help.

No Shaq. No Pat Riley either. Of course, if the Lakers don’t do a better job defensively on Dwyane Wade than they did on Christmas it really won’t matter who else shows up for the Heat.

Stopping Wade. Christmas may have been the worst example of pick-and-roll defense from the Lakers all season, and so you get a spectacular game from Wade.

Wade used 33% of the Heat’s possessions, and despite the heavy workload he shot 62.5% (eFG%), had 11 assists and had an offensive rating 140. He scored almost a point a minute.

Kobe was on Wade for chunks of the game, but #24s lateral quickness is not what it was, and he was slowed out high by good picks set by the Heat. The other problem was that Kwame, apparently afraid that Wade would blow by him in he went out and hedged on the pick (coming out and playing Wade right after the pick stayed back near the paint. So Wade came off the screen, turned toward the hoop and got a full head of steam toward the basket before Kwame was even in the picture. Bad idea. You saw the results.

Of late Bynum has been much better about coming out on the picks and hedging, forcing the ball handler to do something other than just drive straight to the basket. He needs to do a lot of that tonight, as does Turiaf when he is in there.

The other Heat players. These are the guys you want taking shots, although there are things to watch out for.

We’ll start with Jason Kapono, who shot 78.6% (eFG%) against the Lakers last meeting. He’s hot right now, shooting 65% on threes in the last 10 games, the Lakers can’t give him uncontested looks from beyond the arc.

Of late the Heat also have gotten solid play from a variety of sources: Alonso Mourning, Jason Williams, Dorrel Wright, Udonis Haslem and James Posey. They have not been asked to do a lot on offense, but most have hit key shots, pulled down boards and been good role players the last week.

That said, if James Posey beats you so be it. You can’t let Wade beat you.

Shoot better. The Lakers shot poorly last meeting, led by Kobe’s 23.5% from the floor. Can’t do that again. The Lakers also had a lot of shots blocked — Wade had four and Mourning had three.

The star of the game for the Lakers was Turiaf, who played 20 minutes and had 13 points shooting 60%. Walton also shot 60%. With Kobe still not 100% because of the groin these guys and others need to step up.

Things to look for: The Lakers played Miami in the middle of a long road trip and came out flat on Christmas. Now the Lakers catch the Heat on the last game of their six-game road trip, and those final games are often let down games. Something to hope for.

Of course, the Heat come in having won four in a row.

Bynum needs to stay out of foul trouble dealing with Wade’s quickness and Mourining’s strength. How well he plays, particularly on defense, will b key to the Lakers success.