Preview and Chat: Lakers at Heat

Andre Khatchaturian —  January 23, 2014

The back-to-back NBA champion Miami Heat and the injury-riddled Los Angeles Lakers are two teams heading in opposite directions and they’ll be squaring off in South Beach tonight at 5:00 p.m. on TNT.

Lakers Coming In: The Lakers come in to the game having lost 13 of their last 16 games. That said, they have won two of their last three and lost their last game at Chicago on a last second layup in overtime. The Lakers are 2-2 on their seven-game Grammy road trip and will play their next two games in the state of Florida before closing out the trip at Madison Square Garden.

Injury problems continued for the Lakers, who are already missing Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar, and Xavier Henry. Pau Gasol missed practice yesterday and only nine Lakers practiced, which meant they were unable to do 5-on-5 drills.

The Lakers are thin, obviously, but it’s impressive how they continue to fight hard despite all the injury problems. Gasol has been incredible in January – averaging 20.4 points and 12.2 rebounds per game.

Meanwhile, Kendall Marshall and Ryan Kelly have both been on a tear, as well. During the road trip, Kelly is a +5.5 per game (highest on the team) and averaging 14.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Marshall, on the other hand, has continued to be an effective distributor – averaging 11.5 assists on the road trip. Miami doesn’t have the strongest back court in the world so expect Marshall to have another field day.

Finally, it seems like the Lakers have found a dependable lineup combination this month. The combination of Gasol-Kelly-Johnson-Meeks-Marshall has been a +19 in 56 minutes this month. It’s the most effective and most used lineup combination for the Lakers in January. What’s interesting is that when the Lakers replace Kelly with Robert Sacre in the same lineup combination, the numbers fall drastically (-43 in 50 minutes in January). This exemplifies Kelly’s strong play throughout the month.

Heat Coming In: The Miami Heat are well on their way to at least another Eastern Conference Final appearance in the weak East. That being said, they’ve lost four of their last seven and are now four games behind the Indiana Pacers for the No. 1 seed in the East.

We won’t see Dwyane Wade tonight as the guard continues to rest.

That last sentence essentially tells us what the Heat really care about – the playoffs. They know that there is no point to play their oft-injured star in a meaningless regular season game when they know they need him healthy for May and June.

This may bode well for the Lakers. The Heat struggle without Wade in the lineup and are only 6-6. With him on the floor, they’re 24-6.

With Wade out, we will see plenty of LeBron and Chris Bosh. James has had another incredible year, averaging 26.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 6.5 assists. The “6.7 rebounds” is nice for James, but it’s also glaring for the team as a whole. James is the leading rebounder with just 6.7 rebounds. The Heat are the worst rebounding team in the league, averaging just 36.5 rebounds per game.

Head-to-Head: The Heat have beaten the Lakers in seven of their last eight meetings. These two teams squared off on Christmas Day and the Lakers played the Heat close before succumbing in the last half of the fourth quarter. The Heat shot 51.3 percent from the field in that game and won, 101-95.

Miami also grabbed 43 rebounds in that game – their second highest rebounding total of the season. The Lakers may have Gasol and Jordan Hill on their roster, but they’re actually a pathetic rebounding team as a whole. The team may rank 18th in the league in total rebounding, but they’re dead last in rebound percentage. This means they lose plenty of rebound battles. Hill’s diminishing minutes with the team may have something to do with this, so it’ll be interesting to see how much Mike D’Antoni plays him against a poor rebounding opponent.

If the Lakers want to have a chance in this game, they’re going to have to prevent the Heat from getting easy shots. They shoot an NBA best 64 percent from 0-8 feet. However, they’re just an average mid-range shooting team and with Wade out, the Lakers can stay in the game if they force the Heat to take low percentage shots and clean up the glass when they miss. That’s not an easy task, but it’s possible.

On the other end of the court, the Lakers need to continue to move the ball well. They have an AST% of 65.4 percent in January and that’s a testament to Marshall’s great play. When the Lakers move the ball well, they get good looks from three point land. When they get good looks from three point land, they make a lot of threes. When they make a lot of threes, they win.

Though that sounded like a DIRECTV commercial, it’s true. In wins this season, the Lakers shoot 43 percent from downtown compared to just 33 percent in losses. Three pointers are a big part of the Lakers game and it all starts with solid ball movement.

The Spread: The Heat are 11 point favorites. With Wade out and the Lakers playing motivated basketball, it’s not too farfetched to believe that the Lakers can cover the spread.

 

Andre Khatchaturian

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22 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers at Heat

  1. ah, what the hell…. for Warren!

  2. Zach Lowe says that Miami is defending differently on a number of occasions. The old staple defense was susceptible to a big man (typical power forward) who could be a triple threat.
    (http://grantland.com/the-triangle/whats-wrong-with-the-heat/)

    That’s kind of an exact match for the description of Ryan Kelly in a previous FB&G article. (lesser fit would be Pau himself)

    Just like this season to be too little, too late. Hope we see some good energy ball….

  3. Meeks defense is a joke .

  4. Yea Kelly looks great?

  5. Missed the edit window & in any case this isn’t about today’s game per se, but Darius claim about the pace.

    Recap: Darius claim is that the team is playing at the wrong pace (likely true for Pau, and a couple others) and that the D’Antoni’s obsession with playing a fast pace is a sign of a coach who isn’t able to adapt. Specifically, that D’antoni made the statement that playing at a high pace allows superior talent to differentiate itself over a greater number of possessions (when he expected his talent to include nash, howard and kobe). Sticking to that pace with the current roster available would flip that around – the lakers inferior talent will prove itself downward…
    Can you say “hoist on your own petard” ?

    Zach Lowe asked head coach brett brown (a former Pop assistant) this exact same question.
    http://grantland.com/the-triangle/qa-brett-brown-on-his-spurs-past-his-philly-future-and-going-for-a-jog/

    ‘If we start slowing it down, I think we lose 80-68′

    ‘You take young players, or players that are asking for a chance, I think you need to wind them up — to be in attack mode. If you start trying to move the ball side-to-side, and play afraid — no, we’re gonna go the whole other way. I want to… to take that aggression and create something.

    A team like Miami is so well coached, and they’re so good, that when they put their mind to it and say, “Let’s play better half-court defense,” it’s like, “Uh-oh. We’ve got some issues.”

    …Pace and pass, those are the governing things we talk about on offense’

    Yes, brett brown was talking the 76ers but he might as well have been d’antoni talking about the lakers. One can still second guess this, but coaches have a philosophy and a way of channeling aggression; so the simplistic argument at least is countered.

    * I still do believe teams have a resonant frequency on pace…but that this may be an outcome of specific players, their individual situations and styles, as well as coaching philosophy and that pace needs a long term adjustment and view…

  6. Get Kelly out of there. 1 for. 7.

  7. Geez Ko take it easy, im glad Kelly is coming down to Earth, like i said b4 he is not that good and is taking too many shoots.Even w/o Wade the Heat are just a lot for this injury riddle squad. We will see if we can somehow make is competitive.

  8. Harris looks good.

  9. Give em credit for fighting.

  10. Only 8 comments?

  11. The quantity of comments here are as sad as the Heat fans in that buiding.The announcer has to plead with them to cheer. Talk about a bandwagon fanbase.

  12. Hey, what has happened?! 3rd Quarter Heat were up by double digits then I turned off the TV.

    Later, i turned on my pc and Heat only by 5 only with a minute left?!

    KO?!

  13. I think Hill playing last quarter helped and Heat played reserves until 5 minute mark. Still a nice effort. Marshall 6 points last 2 games is a concern. Decent game.

  14. Not a bad game tonight! Considering how many injuries we have…this squad played the defending champs pretty tightly.

  15. I missed the game. So, how did Kelly look? How did Jordan Hill look? How about Kaman?

    Oops. Strike that last question.

  16. Decent game. Not a win, but at least not a complete blowout. With a (relatively) healthy team minus Kobe and Nash this might have gone down better.

    Hard to be a Lakers fan right now but, hey, at least our starters don’t include Smush Parker and Kwame Brown. 

  17. Not that it matters, but a couple of calls in the last few minutes could have brought the Lakers a little closer.

  18. Mid

    Game turned in 2nd half when Hill replaced Kelly. Heat stopped getting easy layups. Kamen was perfect. Not once did he fall off the bench.

  19. Thanks, Ko.

  20. Wesley Johnson is the most frustrating player on the active roster for me. He is clearly thoroughly without comprehension of defense and yet by athleticism alone finds himself in position to cover his ineptitude. At least once a game he’ll run away from the man with the ball. Unless his shot makes a major turnaround in consistency what’s going to keep him in the league if his defense isn’t solid?

    For the afflicted Lakers, the losses are expected more so now. I liken this season as coming off of major surgery and they’ll need a season or two to start to look a semblance of their past. But such a collection of bad individual defenders makes me have to buffer the screen behind chicken wire and a bouncer named Tiny.

  21. Could Pau get the ball down the stretch instead of Nick Y. shooting prayer after prayer? Swaggy doesn’t lack for confidence, I’ll give him that.

    Don’t care if Kendall Marshall scores that much, he is a very good distributor, I love to watch him play.

    Lakers give up the baseline on D all the time. Thought this was a basic fundamental. I somewhat understood when Bynum was down there, or maybe DH last year. This year, no one is there to funnel your man to. How about squaring up fellas?

  22. @melcounts
    I think we all saw in the Chicago game that’s it’s not a good idea to get Gasol the ball in crunch time