A smattering of Lakers/Heat thoughts
Until the Lakers get some players back in the lineup there are no sure things. Not even if you threw John Cusack in there*. But that doesn't mean the Lakers shouldn't win, especially given their massive size advantage. It'll be interesting to see if Miami defends Pau and Bynum as they did a few weeks back. Writes Kurt at Forum Blue and Gold:
"...There are a lot of teams that are smaller than the Lakers, but the Heat have been the only team whose coach had the guts to front the Lakers bigs and try to force turnovers... If and when the Heat front the Lakers bigs in the post, the weak-side post must flash to the free throw line and create a high-low game that can expose the Heat (with Pau and the ball at the free throw line he can lob to Drew, attack the rim or just bury the jumper)..."
Good ball movement helps there as well, as the bigs can seal their fronting defenders and accept passes from better angles for almost automatic points. If the Lakers don't force the issue, they ought to find plenty of opportunities to exploit Miami's lack of size. I've been impressed with how the Lakers have, in the absence of three ball movers and with a slumping Vlad Rad, continued to stay dedicated to inside play. Much credit should go to Kobe, who has helped grease the team's wheels and is playing incredibly efficient basketball these days (even by his lofty standards).
- I'm interested to see how Shawn Marion responds tonight. He didn't play in the fourth quarter or overtime in Miami's win Friday in Sacramento, and hasn't been able to get himself into an offensive flow this year, including in the first game when Marion had a relatively quiet 12 points.
- At some point, Vlad Radmanovic's shooting will even out. But at least as it relates to Phil Jackson, Vlad's incredibly poor decision making is a larger problem. A few times a game, Radmanovic will do something totally cringeworthy. For example, against New Orleans on Tuesday, he jumped a pass to Peja with barely a second left in the first quarter, giving up a clean look to one of the league's best shooters. Friday, he inexplicably left Mike Dunleavy out by the arc with his team up by three to try and rotate back down to Troy Murphy. That's the sort of thing that makes it hard for PJ to trust him. Coaches want predictability, even in a player's shortcomings. The box of chocolates thing isn't at all appealing.
- In the season's initial meeting, the Lakers turned the ball over 21 times and lost by two. You do the math.
- Michael Beasley seems to be getting the hang of NBA ball, judging by his work in the new year. Look for him to play a bigger role tonight.
- If Sasha spends much time on Wade, there's likely going to be a whistle or three that tests his patience, given that every whistle seems to have that affect on him. This is as good a night as any for Vujacic to work on shoring up the mental part of his game.
- If Heidi Klum is at the game again, you know Kiss Cam guy will find her.
*Have you ever seen a trailer lay out an entire movie like that one? Nobody should have been surprised entering the theater...