What a week for the Lakers! They’re currently sitting number one in the NBA with a six and one record. They overcame a huge deficit against the Chicago Bulls to cap off a road trip without a loss. LeBron James will be returning home to take on his former team. The Miami Heat are currently 6-2 coming off a win against the Phoenix Suns (without context, sun vs heat sounds very redundant and sweaty). The Heat were able to snag a superstar free agent this past summer in Jimmy Butler. Like the Lakers’ last opponent, the Heat have promising young players in Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow, and Tyler Herro. But there is still plenty of veteran talent around in James Johnson, Goran Dragic, Meyers Leonard, and Kelly Olynyk.
Miami also has Erik Spoelstra (*Filipino flag emoji*)
arguably the best coach in the league. This is a talented team that has had a….hot start to the season. Let’s take a look at what we can expect.
The Lakers currently have a two-game winning streak against the Heat, sweeping the south beach team last season (including a game where LeBron dropped a 50 piece). Since the introduction of the Heat in 1988, the Lakers have a commanding 35 to 27 win differential.
(Stats are as of the morning of November 7)
The Lakers have the number one defensive rating (97.9) in the NBA with Utah right behind them. The Heat aren’t far behind with a defensive rating of 99.9. Interestingly, both teams have similar offensive ratings, with the Los Angeles team ranking 15th (106.7) and the Heat at (106.1).
The Lakers outside shooting woes can be a point of concern for this upcoming game. The Heat is ranked fourth in three-point shooting (39%). The outside shooting barrage is led by Leonard (64.3% which is sustainable), Dragic (41%), and Kendrick Nunn (40.9%). As for the purple and gold, they have one player shooting lights out in Danny Green (47.2%) who ranks 23rd in the NBA. No one else on the Lakers is shooting in the 40%, with Avery Bradley behind him with 35.3%.
Most of the Lakers’ points come from two-point field goals accounting for 58.9% of their total points, and three-pointers accounting for 25.1% ( 27th in the league). This is inverse of Miami who has two-pointers account for 47.2% of their points (26th) and three-pointers accounting for their scoring.
The Lakers will have to watch for Nunn, the undrafted rookie from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign [Editors note: THE best school], who leads the team in scoring with 18.3 points per game. Butler and Dragic are both averaging 15 points per game and have the penchant for getting hot, which can lead to an early deficit for the Lakers.
Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard will have their work cut out for them against Bam Adebayo who is averaging 12.7 points per game to go along with seven rebounds. Defensively, he is averaging 1.7 blocks a game, which may make life difficult for the Lakers.
The Heat have an extensive injury report going into the game against the Phoenix, so we will not know the extent of the team until a few hours before the game on Friday. Bradley and Rajon Rondo are still the only Lakers on their injury report
As of Thursday at 12 PM PST, here is how it looks:
- Miami Heat
- Justise Winslow (questionable)
- Dion Waiters (questionable)
- Udonis Haslem (questionable)
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Rajon Rondo (doubtful)
- Avery Bradley (questionable)
The Lakers and the Heat will be playing at 7:30 PM PST at Staples Center. Be sure to follow Lakers Outsiders on twitter for updates.