Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Without Dwyane Wade, the Miami Heat face a match-up Issue Against the Los Angeles Lakers

Published on January 18, 2012 by Anthony Carriuolo   ·   No Comments

The Miami Heat host the Los Angeles Lakers tomorrow evening. The Los Angeles Lakers are red hot right now, and are largely winning off of the incredible streak of Los Angeles Lakers SG Kobe Bryant. Miami Heat SG Dwyane Wade is the type of defender who can reduce the production of the red hot Kobe Bryant. Unfortunately, Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra will likely work with the trainers to take precautionary measures, knowing that with the talent on the Miami Heat, the post-season is the only concern.

Missing SG Dwyane Wade leaves a major defensive hole with Lakers SG Kobe Bryant savoring the match up against likely starter in Miami Heat G/F James Jones, who takes charges but is a pedestrian on-the-ball defender. Defending Kobe Bryant is an exhausting endeavor, and even if Coach Spoelstra pins Miami Heat SF LeBron James against Kobe Bryant. LeBron James is one of the best defenders in decades, who can use his speed to defend (and neutralize) Chicago Bulls PG Derrick Rose, or use his size and strength to stop even the most brutal power forwards.

However, despite the fact that LeBron James is the most complete (and most likely fittest) player in basketball, defending Kobe Bryant is going to drain energy and is going to force James to take the ball to the basket less and less as the game wears on. G/F Shane Battier has not found his scoring touch as of yet. With the sources of points reaching all over the floor for the Miami Heat, Battier should be able to focus every second of his time on the floor to blanketing Kobe Bryant and building a lead through his defense. The fact of the matter is, without SG Dwyane Wade, the most important factor of course is to neutralize Bryant, but without Wade’s energy, this becomes a far more daunting task.

The other dangerous match position wise is Los Angeles Lakers C Andrew Bynum against Miami Heat C Joel Anthony. Lakers C Andrew Bynum returned in an explosive manner from his early suspension, netting 29 points. Joel Anthony is one of the most energetic and quick defensive centers in the game. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in hustle. Anthony never gives up on a play, receiving the gift of his nickname “The Warden” as a result of his effort. Anthony has played stars like Orlando Magic C Dwight Howard admirably, limiting his easy chances with footwork, and fronting him with matched tenacity. Andrew Bynum is a far bulkier center, and may pose issues for Anthony, who could be bulldozed if he does not have good body position in the post.

Having a high and a low option offensively is a good recipe to enjoy on the floor. The Miami Heat have ways to win this game, and could easily run up a massive lead like last season if they play with hustle.

The Miami Heat are a far faster and more athletic team. Los Angeles Lakers PG Derek Fisher is nothing more than a point and shoot player at his age, and will not be able to slow down the fearless slashing of Miami Heat PG Norris Cole. Miami Heat PG Mario Chalmers has shown a hot hand lately, shooting 4-6 behind the arc against the San Antonio Spurs last night. If the Heat drop threes half as nicely as they did last night, the game will be well in hand.

The only way to defend Miami is to force them to shoot jumpers, with the zone defense working thus far. However, if the combination of Chalmers and LeBron shoot 8-12 from deep, there is no answer. Overall, the Miami Heat trio of LeBron, Chalmers, and Mike Miller shot a combined 14-18 from the three point line. There is absolutely no way this type of production will be a regularity. Miller is as consistent as he has been through a one game sample size but will rarely shoot 6-6 (100% is tough for anyone, unless they’re telekinetic) LeBron’s deep ball is streaky, and Chalmers is semi-consistent from beyond the arc. If Miami hit their jumpers they will win outright.

Offensively, Miami looks like if they run the ball with their stellar pace, utilizing their speed and youth, they will score in bunches. Even though Kobe Bryant is one of the most complete players in basketball history, he will not keep up by himself against a Miami Heat team that runs and runs together. The Heat should see open threes, and Miami Heat PF Chris Bosh will look to be effective against a player with similar skills but lacking defense: Los Angeles Lakers PF Pau Gasol.

The Miami Heat face some fearsome matches against the Los Angeles Lakers tomorrow, but should be able to win if they play intelligent team defense, slow down the flurry of Kobe Bryant, and once again turn to LeBron James after an extremely encouraging performance last night.


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