The Lakers got a much needed win over the Raptors on Tuesday, but in the process have lost Talen Horton-Tucker to a 1-game suspension due to him stepping onto the court during the skirmish that broke out when OG Anunoby decided he was going to dump Dennis Schroder onto the ground after the latter fouled him on a drive to the hoop. By the letter of the law, THT broke the rules and now he’ll have to sit out vs. the Heat when the Lakers close out the Florida portion of their road trip tonight.
THT is currently going through one of his better stretches of the season, scoring well and making plays for teammates on his many forays to the paint. With Bron out, there’s now little shot creation on the roster beyond Dennis, leaving Caruso more responsibility and, should he be cleared to play with his sore calf, Kuzma needing to do even more off the dribble than he has of late.
This is why, even with Andre Drummond set to return tonight, I hope to see some Marc Gasol tonight, even if the lineups are a bit clunky. An extra passer and decision maker/organizer of offense could be useful in bench lineups. So, even if the Lakers have to play bigger than they might typically with Trez/Marc teaming up for a bigger frontcourt, the benefit of having another player who can at least offer some of that skill would be beneficial. We’ll see what direction Vogel goes in, however.
As for the rest of the game, my sense is that the Lakers are just too outgunned this game for many, if any, of the X’s and O’s or matchups to matter that much. The Heat acquired Victor Oladipo at the trade deadline and with everyone else on the roster available, they have a deep roster that is surely looking to ramp up for the playoffs. And even though they lost their last game, they’d won 4 straight before that and with this being a “Finals rematch”, my sense is that we’re going to see a strong effort from them tonight even if there is some mental letdown with the Lakers so shorthanded.
For me, then, what I’m mostly looking for are positive minutes from Drummond and a continued emphasis on defending hard from the full group. Do those things, and I’ll take this as a building block game and see some positives. Particularly since we’re not likely to see the Lakers able to score well this game. Getting hot from behind the arc would help, of course, but even if that happens the Heat are a good enough defensive team and have enough talent to ride out any hot streaks and play well enough to win.
Sorry I cannot be more optimistic about this one, you guys. There’s just too much an imbalance between these two teams tonight for me to see things going differently.
Where you can watch: 4:30pm start time on Spectrum SportsNet and TNT.