This is how you lose two games. You allow the other team(s) to score 219 points. The big men are outrebounded by 28. The ball movement creates 11 assists a game. You turn the ball over 35 times and miss 75% of your three point shots. You shoot 34% overall. Outside of Nick Young, the bench scores 22 points.
Merry Christmas Lebron James.
This Christmas Day matchup was supposed to feature Kobe and Lebron. Without Kobe, Lebron, who leads the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating, will have little to inspire him other than playing in L.A. He won’t need to do much to assert his dominance. He will easily overwhelm whoever is matched up against him. His strength in the post and skill on the perimeter and overall talent are too much for the Lakers thin defense and terrible rotations. Mercy anyone? Look for a lot of Lebron dunks and passes to open shooters and double digit assists. Advantage: Lebron.
The Lakers have allowed opposing guards to score over 30 points: Klay Thompson, Monta Ellis, James Harden, John Wall, Goran Dragic. Enter Dwayne Wade, the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week. He is managing his knee issues by sitting out games to his benefit. Although his scoring totals are down he still has the ability to blow by his man and get to the rim or create space and shoot a fade away. Jodie Meeks is not athletic enough or physical enough to be able to inhibit Wade when he wants to go to the rim. The Lakers lack toughness so once he gets to the rim it will be an uncontested layup. Advantage: Wade
Chris Bosh will be paired up against Pau Gasol, the only interesting matchup that may end in a draw. Bosh will play on the perimeter and sink his fifteen footers. Gasol will play on the perimeter and sink his fifteen footers. Both rebound at the same rate and will cancel each other out but look for Bosh around the three point line, open as the defenders gravitate towards Wade or Ray Allen. Advantage: Bosh
Ray Allen was drafted in the same class as Kobe. Though not nearly as quick to the rim as he once was he still is skilled at hitting open threes. Ray will have to guard Nick Young who is much more explosive and ten years younger. Nick should be able to get open shots and drive into the lane and be his Shaggy P self. Advantage: Nick
Chris Anderson (Birdman) is relentless around the rim. His energy and hustle infects the entire Miami Heat team as he grabs offensive rebounds and gets to the line. He will be guarding Jordan Hill who also plays hard and the two of them going at, their physical rebound to the death personality, will decide who wins the paint. Advantage: tie
Xavier Henry is the wildcard. He has the potential to score twenty points or he can get in foul trouble as he did against Phoenix and sit on the bench. A physical player, he lowers his head and drives to the rim like a blind man in an alley. Unfortunately the defenders see him and block his shot, draw a charge or force a miss. Xavier’s mental mistakes will create Heat dunks. How Xaiver passes the ball will be crucial because of how Miami depends on their turnovers to generate their offense. (They are first in steals.) Norris Cole will try to take advantage of Xavier’s inexperience early in the game and pressure him into making decisions he is not comfortable with. Advantage: Toss up.
Jordan Farmar is going to play but after such a long layoff coming back against the speed and defense of Miami is a noble but ultimately bad idea. He is going to be rusty, something the aggression of Mario Chalmers will take advantage of by creating turnovers. But Farmar will be able to get into the lane and create open shots for his teammates which after seven games without a point guard will be a relief. Advantage: toss up
Eric Spoelstra knows how to coach against mediocrity. He turns up the defensive pressure, he gives his players the freedom to create havoc in the passing lanes and get out on the break for dunks. The Heat lead the league in field goal percentage, 51%. Rarely does Spoelstra’s team fall flat versus an undermanned opponent when everyone is watching. He knows his team inside and out, he knows what he wants to accomplish, he trusts his players and he depends on his defensive schemes. None of which can be said about Mike D’Antoni. But the Heat are last in the league in rebounding and they turn the ball over as frequently as the Lakers do. Still their speed overwhelms talented players much less average ones. Advantage: Spoelstra
Christmas Day debuts the dreaded uniforms the players hate. Lakers fans will need something distracting. Against teams with a record above .500 the Lakers are 3-11. They give up 110 points and are outrebounded by 8. Prediction: Miami. It won’t be pretty.