Rosen’s Report: Lakers at Heat

***

Kobe Bryant is aching to show that he, and not LeBron James, is the game’s most dominant player in tonight’s game in Miami (8 ET, TNT). And that he can lead the Lakers to another championship without being somewhat overshadowed by Phil Jackson and the triangle offense.

Meanwhile, LeBron wants to prove that he is indeed capable of excelling in clutch situations in big-time games.  If this does come to pass (and shoot, and defend), then Miami can stake its  claim as overwhelming favorites to win the last game of the season. And with Dwyane Wade unavailable, LBJ will enjoy twice as much ball-time as will Kobe.

HOW THE LAKERS CAN WIN: Matt Barnes provides scrappy, ball-sniping defense against LeBron.  As a change of pace, Metta World Peace can defend LBJ with a belligerent physicality.  Throw in some judicious double-teams, and James just might be a mite discombobulated.

* Pau Gasol’s long-armed defense will trouble Chris Bosh.  When Bosh receives the ball on the right side of  the court, his jumper is significantly more accurate and, from there, he also looks to drive right along the baseline.  This is when and where he should be two-timed.  No such measures need to taken when he sets up on the left side of the court.  Also, Gasol can outreach Bosh’s defense in the low-post.

* Since Joel Anthony is no threat to score, Andrew Bynum can ignore him on the defensive end and devote himself to protecting the rim.  On the downhill end of the court, Bynum is simply too big and strong for even Anthony’s energetic defense to be effective.

* Even if Derek Fisher wears lead sneakers, he plays excellent position defense, rarely makes mistakes, and is an incredibly dependable shooter in the clutch.

* Early in the game, Kobe Bryant runs off a variety of staggered screens to create space for him to receive the ball at the top of the key.  The switches and precise defensive adjustments required might be beyond the immediate capabilities of the Heat—especially because they have only one practice session to come up with an appropriate game plan.  Look for Kobe to feast on the resulting mismatches, uncontested jumpers and/or open driving lanes.

* The perpetual hustle of Josh McRoberts will be a factor.  In addition, Miami’s will to win could be challenged by the rock-hard fouls he routinely commits.

* The Lakers are in full command of their defensive glass, which will limit Miami’s offense to one-and-done sequences.

* Under Mike Brown’s tutelage, the LAL defense is characterized by quick hands and surprising mobility.

* The Heat’s screen/roll defense is erratic, as are Bosh’s baseline rotations.

* Miami’s offense stagnates when LeBron has his sticky fingers on the ball.  Indeed, there are precious few dive-cutters when he’s in his favorite iso-mode.  Also, LBJ is mostly interested in throwing assist-possible passes.

* James can also be fouled for profit since his body is never still from his start-up to his release, which is why he tends to miss more free throws than he should.

HOW THE HEAT CAN WIN:  If LeBron’s treys and pull-up jumpers are on target, he can’t be defended and the Heat are unbeatable.  Period.

* Shane Battier’s rugged defense will give Kobe trouble — especially in the endgame when LAL forgoes the staggered screens and just gets the ball to Bryant in the middle of the court and lets him go one-on-one.  In the past, LeBron’s strength and size have also curtailed Kobe’s offense — especially now that Bryant has lost a step.

* Udonis Haslem has the defensive chops to lock up Gasol.

* With Steve Blake injured, Fisher’s backup at the point is Darius Morris, who can be pressured into making rookie mistakes.

* The Lakers’ perimeter defense is faulty, enabling the likes of James Jones, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, and even rookie Norris Cole to unleash a barrage of uncontested shots from never-never land.

* Bynum has great hands and not-so-great feet, so his foot-space can be crowded when he gets the ball in the pivot.  Moreover, he will always make a reverse move in the low-post.  By bringing tight-help to his weakside, Bynum is liable to commit either turnovers or charging fouls.

* MWP has lost a step and also his jump shot.  He can be played soft without his doing much damage on offense.

* The Lakers are the league’s worst 3-point shooters, so packing the paint is an excellent strategy.

* Kobe loses concentration when he’s defending off-the-ball, particularly when his man cuts to the rim.

* On LA’s second unit, Bynum is the only player who can create his own shot.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. How often (if ever) will the Lakers resort to the kind of 2-3 zone defense that has repeatedly stalled the Heat’s offense thus far this season?
  2. Notice how infrequently Gasol receives the ball in the pivot during the second half.
  3. If Wade does play his ankle will certainly still be sore.  Accordingly, will the Lakers set-up screens or offensive tweaks that will force him to guard Kobe in open spaces that make double-teaming too risky?
  4. Lately, Kobe has been settling for fadeaway jumpers and has therefore been a stranger at the stripe.  Will he change tactics and attack the basket?
  5. If and when they occur, special attention should be paid to any delicious mano-a-mano confrontations between Kobe and LBJ.

Charley Rosen is a former pro basketball player and coach and author of 16 books on basketball.

64 Comments

  1. TheKing6 says:

    People, people. Those who think LBJ cannot win without Wade are fooling themeslves. If The King is on target for his shots, it’s true that he can’t be defended. So, Heat win. However, he will be guarded more fiercely without Wade in the mix. But the Heat still have a great chance. Also, Kobe is wearing himself down with all of these big nights. He will run out of steam soon. The season is still young. I’m looking for the Heat to shut down Kobe and once that’s done, the Lakers will have nothing left to fight with.

  2. cece says:

    so funny how all you haters say that the heat will get beat bahha can’t wait till the game is over bosh and bron can do it together

  3. Mike says:

    LBJ has beaten the Lakers several times without Wade. For some strange reason LBJ seems to play great againts the Lakers. Dont see why he can’t continue to do it.

  4. oula says:

    Good luck L.A. Lakers. Go get the win!!!

  5. TeamFan not Playerfan says:

    I think LA fans on here are expecting to much. Their teams depth is not what it was 2-3 years ago. Kobe is still great but he is not where he was 2-3 years ago. Miami by +10

  6. enrique says:

    I don’t care who wins tonight. What matters is who wins the last game of the season. So far LBJ has no idea what that is like, until he does he is nothing but a wanna be self acclaimed super star. Last year he was with the best team in the league by far and he couldn’t do it. The two years before his teams had the best record in the league and he couldn’t even make it to the finals. LBJ is nothing until he PROVES everyone wrong.

  7. kobefan4life says:

    Lakers have a pretty goo d chance at beating the miami beat tonight and posterizing lebum jasmine

  8. johhny b. says:

    Kobe is shooting 24% from 3-point land. Lebron is shooting 44% from 3-point land.
    Kobe is 46% in FG. Lebron is 58% in FG.
    Kobe is attempting 25 FG per game. Lebron is attempting 19 FG per game.

    Scoring is almost the same, with Kobe up 1 point since his put on a ball-hogging clinic over that 4-game stretch.

  9. HeatFTW! says:

    If we have no Wade, I say the Heat can still win. The Heat seem to do better without Wade…..yeah, Wade is more of a clutch shooter than LBJ, but the Heat are 4 – 0 without him. I think the Heat will be fine.

  10. HeatFTW! says:

    Being a huge Heat fan, of course I’m gonna say the Heat will win. Will it be an easy one?…nope! The Heat seem to do better without Wade; they’re 4-0 with out him. And with Kobe being one of LeBron’s biggest rivals, LeBron should go all out tonight. PLUS, the Heat have Miller back……we have some deadly 3-point shooting guys: Miller, Jones, Chalmers, Cole, and some times LeBron……the Lakers have nobody really. lol. Bynum and Bryant are going to be the trouble for the Heat tonight…..I think Bosh can handle Gasol.

  11. johhny b. says:

    PLAYER NAME, GP MPG PTS FGM-FGA FG% 3PM-3PA 3P% FTM-FTA FT%
    Kobe Bryant , 15 37.7 30.8 11.3-24.9 .456 1.1-4.4 .242 7.1-8.5 .828
    LeBron James , 12 37. 29.8 10.9-18.9 .577 .6-1.3 .438 7.4-10.3 .71

  12. vaxgelli says:

    Go Lakers!
    Kobe is the best player of the world!!!

  13. henry says:

    go heat

  14. Kasper says:

    The Heat cant guard Bynum , so look for the big man to have a huge night when the Lakers beat Heat

  15. G10 says:

    LBJ is nothing in Heat without DW last 4 games (1-3) , Heat isn’t an LBJ’s team it’s DW’s

  16. jose says:

    umm hasn’t anybody stop to think that Mike Brown coached Lebron for idk 5 years? don’t you think he can possibly know every weakness to LBJ’s game since he’s the same player since he won the first mvp?

    • newlobcity says:

      That’s true, BUT don’t you think Lebron know’s the defensive schemes that Mike Brown will try to thrown at him? It’s not an easy job at all tryin to guard Lebron, plus he attracts so much attention when he has the ball that it creates opportunities for Bosh, Miller, Chamlers, Haslem, Cole, Jones to score. One thing I’ve noticed from the Lakers defense is that players who are able to get dribble penetration can cause a lot of havoc for the Lakers (Lebron, Cole, Chamlers in that order) since there is not a lot of LATERAL AGILITY(except for Barnes, Ebanks, and Morris) from the Lakers. My point is that if the Heat can knock down the 3ball, (Miller, Jones, Chamlers, and Lebron) it will be a blowout

  17. Beaugossian says:

    Matt Barnes, MWP, none of these dudes can guard LBJ whether it’s with physicality or anything else. Lebron is going to score, he’s going to make plays, he’s gonna do what he does. The only person that can defend him is Lebron himself if he start deferring or goes thru those moments he’s had before. But this is not the playoffs, it’s just a big game and Lebron always brings it for big games during the regular season. Now the question is is Bosh gonna come out to play tonite? I think if Bosh plays the way he’s been playing lately, wins his matchup with Gasol (which I think he will), knocks down midrange jumpers and gimme 11 or 12 boards, the Heat will win with no question. If he don’t do that, man they’re in for a long night. Also, I don’t think Kobe will be a problem tonight; he hasn’t recovered yet from scoring more than 160pts in four games, so believe it or not Kobe will not go off for another big night tonight. The problem will be Bynum, I believe he could be the big difference in this game for the Lakers because the Heat just don’t have an answer to prevent him from rebounding and putting it in the hole, and also his presence in the paint on the defensive end might force Lebron and Bosh to settle for jump shots and play more outside, with the hope that shots will fall.
    Forget about D.Wade he’s to me the best guard in the NBA, but he wasn’t playing great anyways before he got hurt. The Heat can win without him, they have the depth for it, they have the desire to do it, and now they have Lebron.

  18. Bruce Ighani says:

    The Lakers are the best team in the NBA. They will rock the Heat tonight. LeBron aint got nothin on Kobe. Kobe is the best player in the NBA and mark my words Lakers will win tonight. I will give Simon $20 dollars tonight.

  19. Trenchy says:

    Most comments here seem to suggest that Lebron’s superiority over Kobe or vice versa is the decisive factor. However, comments such as “Lakers win if D-wade’s not playing” make me wonder if you’ve actually watched any other games lately. If you haven’t heard, Wizards just beat OKC! Sixers lost at home! (to a good team though). Kings defeated Pacers after trailing by double digits late in the game! It’s the NBA! Where unexpected happens!

  20. Lakers#1 says:

    I’m pessimistic about Lakers chances to win. The bench is too weak offensively making only about 4-10 points a game. With those numbers they get outscored about 2-3 times by the opposite bench. Darius Morris has no idea what he is doing with the ball, Metta World Peace has completely lost his shooting, Troy Murphy seems very weak offensively, and Jason Kapono hasn’t delivered 3 point shooting. The only positive note is that Josh McRoberts delivers energy, offense and defence. Also Steve Blake has improved this season but he is still injured and can’t play.

    The Lakers get outscored with their second unit in every game and that means Kobe Bryant has to worker harder and longer in every single game to catch up with the other team. This will slowly but surely drain the power from Lakers superstar and will in the end mean no championship this year!

    Note to Mitch Kupchak; Get Dwight Howard to the Lakers and get a good player to improve the bench!

  21. jc says:

    KOBE LOST A STEP??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
    WOW…………………………
    4 STRAIT GAMES OVER 40 POINTS , HE HASN;T LOST ANYTHING AT ALLLLLLLLLLL

    • TheKing6 says:

      Dude. Do you remember the Lakers getting swept last season? This is a brief period. Kobe won’t make it to the finals this year. Very likely it will be OKC in the West.

  22. AARON says:

    especially since bryant has lost a step? is that a joke? have u watched kobe recently?

  23. Peter says:

    Bottom line, for miami to win they need to be as sound defensively as they possibly can. And we all know when they WANT and all are on the same page….Defensively they are nearly unbreakable. the rest shud follow the flow. Miami still has LBJ and Chris Bosh, and lets not forget about guys like mike miller, james jones, and Mario, who can def take care of a few points in case Wade doesnt play. I cant wait for the matchup! GO HEAT!!

  24. Stef says:

    LeBron James is the best player in the NBA. Kobe is a legend but is no longer on James’ level IMO. He can still score obviuously but needs a whole lotta shots to do so. LeBron uses both his all-star caliber team mates (unlike Kobe) so if D-Wade plays Miami win no question. Without him they still win…

  25. Grapes Fandangger says:

    Kobe’s gonna hit the buzzer beater for a W

  26. Canuck says:

    I propose Toronto trades their entire team for Lebron. Heck, throw in the CN tower, the Rogers Centre, maple syrup, and some beavers while you’re at it.

  27. Barea # 1 says:

    The Heat are definitely going to win this game LBJ is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • kobe says:

      Lebron is awsome.during the regular season.NBA FINALS he looks like a dear in headlights..

    • THE HEAT MAY BE AWESOME; ARE THE LAKER’S CHOPPED LIVER?
      I READ THAT WHEN THE MIAMI HEAT TEAM LANDED, IN LA. LEBRON JUDAS
      GOT SICK……….I QUESS HE DID. HE NOT ONLY HAS TO FACE “KOBE”, AND
      COMPANY. BUT THE COACH, I FEEL HE BETRAYED “COACH MIKE BROWN”.

      I LOVE THE LAKER’S ! MAY THE BEST TEAM W I N !

  28. aSoN says:

    Its interesting that the +/- is more minus when DWade plays with the fellas. I love the guy but they will have to get better if DWade plays. If not then I see the heat winning convincingly

  29. Byrdymann says:

    The key to Miami winning is all on the head coach. Spostra needs to understand that he has to play his role players in every game. Not only win D-Wade is hurt. If he can play most of his players when Wade is not Playing, then he should be able to work them in the rotation when he’s healthy. James Jones should be playing in every game, period!The regular season continuity is paramount to success in the playoffs and chamionship. If they play in every game during the regular season and know their role on the team, they will be comfortable during playoff games. Its a team sport no matter if u have a big-3 or not. But at the end of the day, Miami wins tonite against the lakers because Kobe will not allow the twin towers to get the touches they deserve.

  30. Fact says:

    80% FG attempts from 3, 1, and 6 costs Miami Defeat.

    Miami Heat less Wade is actually an improved version of Lebron’s Cleveland Cavaliers. 3-0
    Miami Heat without Wade and Lebron is actually an improved version of Bosh’s Toronto Raptors. Currently 1-0

  31. basit rasheed says:

    the thing is heat need 3 amazing stars to win a title and they still cant get 1. if Kobe can do what he normally does and same with the rest of the team heat r finished and Lakers r best defensive so heat arnt scoring much

  32. MTL187#24 says:

    My only question is ;

    If Kobe wins a title with Mike Brown as the Head Coach, what would that really say about Lebron James ?

  33. lol says:

    One thing is wrong here
    Chris Bosh usually dominates vs Pau Gasol so that statement about Gasol being able to defend Bosh should be deleted

  34. They are boring him with un stimulating questions.

  35. A-Wing says:

    a few things in my mind:
    1. how kobe does, higher or lower than 50% from shooting,
    2. and pau, if he plays well, its hard for the lakers to lose
    3. beginning lead due to bynum’s attack to the rim
    4, d-wade gonna play or not? if he does, offense is better, but doesn’t always mean the defense is better
    5. how lbj gonna play? matt and metta’s defense are ok, what is lbj gonna do to that
    6. turnovers
    7. offensive rebounds
    i think it will be a close game, lakers by 5

  36. Baha says:

    Lebron cant shoot period….Kobe is going to kill em tonight….Bosh is a girl….only D Wade can help Heat….

    • Melo7 says:

      Lebron is shooting over 50% and he is making most of his mid range jumpers. Lebron CAN also hit the three. Bosh is one of the best power forwards in the game, period. He’s gotten a lot better over the post season, look for him to score 20+ and be the reason the heat win.

  37. Esteban says:

    I don’t think The Heat is in any trouble. LeBron and Bosh just confirmed in the last game that they can do pretty well without Wade. If LeBron continues to find and create plays for Bosh, they will be unstoppable. And this article barely recognizes that Miller, Chalmers, LeBron and Cole can bury any team when they all hit their 3′s. The Heat has EVERYTHING to beat the Lakers comfortably, they just need to excecute it.

  38. silentq says:

    heat FTW

  39. Law064 says:

    Should be a good game and I don’t know why people always say Kobe vs Lebron I’m not sure how much they’ll be matched up with each other but if Gasol & Bynum come to play then the Heat will get beat up down low. Kobe is Kobe and Lebron is Lebron but if it’s a close game down the stretch Miami has no Wade and Lebron has showed his true self down the stretch Heat might be in trouble. Good luck to both sides.. Go Bulls Go Celtic’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. Conor O'Brien says:

    DWade is a key and with him the Heat are guaranteed but even without him I still fully expect a Heat victory tonight. Battier’s proven in the past he can guard Kobe and the Lakers don’t have enough depth to make up for a lackluster offensive showing in this game, having said that no one will accuse the Heat of being the deepest team in the league either.

  41. Anthony says:

    I agree with that…

  42. Theo HEAT! says:

    lebron has to be aggressive! kobe is always aggressive on Lebron but Lebron sometimes doesnt hustle as much as needed in the game! and its true…. if lebron can make his jumpers and his post shots he will be unstopable tonight but if his shots dont fall he will play defense and make up for it…. lebron should drive, post and draw fouls and MAKE HIS FREETHROWS! im a lebron fan but cant help but notice his mistakes… for kobe: well kobe is kobe, he will shoot a lot tonight and will be aggressive…

  43. Ray says:

    This looks to be a pretty interesting match up for the first game tomorrow.

    If Kobe manage to get his rhythm up and going early on, he would be unstoppable as proven in his previous couple of 40+ point games.

    Another point to look out for would be Bynum and Gasol. They are vital in the paint.

    Wade’s injuries definitely cast uncertainties on the Heats, Seeing how the Lakers strengthen their defense under Mike Brown, the burden on LBJ might be too tough for him to shoulder alone.

    Wade is the key to this match up.

  44. Vik says:

    the Heat statisically play a lot better when wade is on the bench. Lebron creates better plays, bosh gets more open looks as well as chalmers, cole, haslem, miller. Miami is extremely lethal. Prepare to see a lot of open 3′s for miami, i believe this will help them get the win.

  45. HEADS UP! says:

    my most awaited match up this month!

  46. randomNBA says:

    well I think that even if Dwayne Wade is back it would still be the same for Miami heat in defense and offence because Shane Battier is a great defender that can defend Kobe. Offensively Dwade hasn’t been doing much lately so that is still a question mark for him. Overall I think that if the Lakers play good defense they can win this game easily.

  47. BoJAxSON says:

    Hey Frank you are right about DW being key! However, LA would not be in trouble, Kobe would as he is a one man team, a monster, a beast, a phenom!

  48. With just three games on today’s schedule (Hornet-Rockets, Lakers-Heat and Mavericks-Jazz), the NBA Game of the Day is clearly the matchup between Los Angeles and Miami (http://randomnbafan.com/01/19/2012/nba-game-of-the-day-los-angeles-lakers-at-miami-heat/).

    Kobe and LeBron are one two in the league in scoring, but these two leaders will have to do more than score if they hope to lead their respective teams to a win.

  49. frank says:

    I think DW is the key. If he can play healty LA is in trouble. If not Miami is in trouble, no matter what LBJ can do

    • Esqibo says:

      I have seen LBJ beating the Lakers all by himself before. No need to worry! DW is not the key!

    • adriana says:

      exactly, d wade showed the last few times that he can guard (an older) kobe, used to be different as we all know back in the day but when ur 33 things change. now wade being out, its a perfect opportunity for kobe to score and prob win the game.

    • mgm1451 says:

      now that DW is not playing, LA is gonna win. even otherwise, GO LAKERS ALL THE WAY!!!

    • WOW says:

      people said that D wade was the key to the spurs game when they said he might play. hmm look how that turned out. you might not like the guy but when LBJ gets hot there is no one on this planet that can guard him as he has proved before i.e. game 5 of the ECF in 07 when he completely dismantled the pistons defense by himself. So i have to disagree with you and say that if LBJ has another night like he did against the spurs, this game may be a blowout just like the spurs game

    • deeds says:

      i do agree, but i think it also comes down to how much will kobe trust his teammates to make plays or will he just hold the ball and settle for bad shots as he’s prone to doing. both lbj and kobe have been plagued by poor execution in critical late-game situations lately, should be a great game.

      • skrutz says:

        Kobe will go for a ton of three’s, miss all but one, and it will make the highlight reel. With no mention of the other misses.

        Seems to happen reasonably often.

      • Lakers win says:

        Because Kobe’s three point basket in the dying seconds of the 4th matter and will give the Lakers the win. That’s why it’s on the highlight reel