Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Pick a winner Saturday, and tell us why: Heat or Lakers?
David Aldridge: Lakers. Miami is good, but the Heat’s achilles’ is lack of size. The Lakers have the best, deepest big man core in the league. And Kobe.
Fran Blinebury: Lakers. Size matters. The first two games this season against the Celtics showed that a team with size will cause big problems for the Heat. Now that Andrew Bynum is back in the lineup, nobody is bigger and better up front than the Lakers. And, oh yeah, then there’s Kobe, who just might have something more than ho-ho-ho to say on Christmas.
Art Garcia: I’m going with the champs for two reasons: Kobe and Bryant. Black Mamba loves the biggest stages and the biggest challenges, so a Christmas Day top billing plus a foe genetically engineered to take down the Lakers is all the motivation needed for the pride of Lower Merion. LeBron, D-Wade and the rest of the SuperFriends are finding their stride, but Kobe remains the big brother in a rivalry that begins Saturday.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Lakers. Because that’s how it turned out when I just flipped a coin. There’s no real reason. It’s a December game that won’t mean anything in the big picture unless either team sweeps the season series in a convincing manner. The league and the network were so insistent on making the matchup happen that they sent the Heat on a two-game trip to the West – Dec. 23 at Phoenix and Dec. 25 at L.A. I can’t ever recall that much travel for that few games.
Shaun Powell: Love the way LeBron has played in a pair of pressure-cooker environments: Cleveland and New York. But the Staples Center doesn’t qualify, because half the crowd won’t show up early enough to work themselves into a healthy boo. Plus, the Lakers will use this game to showcase their total team, now that Andrew Bynum‘s back. Did I forget to mention Kobe gets up for these Christmas Day games? My bad.
John Schuhmann: Afternoon games (it’s a 2 p.m. start in L.A.) and Christmas games are so hard to predict, because the likelihood that one of the teams comes out flat seems to be much higher than it is for night games. Even if both teams are sharp, this one should be somewhat ugly, because they’re both playing well defensively. It’s hard to imagine the Lakers, who should be plenty motivated, letting the Heat get the upper hand at Staples. But I think Miami has been the better team in recent weeks. Meaningless and mostly baseless prediction: Heat 90, Lakers 87.
Sekou Smith: I’m going with the Heat. If I thought the Lakers cared anything at all about statement games in December, I might buy into them trying to conjure up some angst for these upstarts from Miami that want to steal their title. But you don’t play in three straight NBA Finals worrying about things like that. I expect this game to be filled with all the requisite Christmas Day drama. The Heat have more to prove. I’ll be much more interested in the individual matchups (LeBron James and Ron Artest, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Pau Gasol) than I am in the final score.