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Lakers at Heat: Finals Preview?

January 18, 2012
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The Los Angeles Lakers visit the Miami Heat Thursday night in what could well be a preview of the 2012 NBA Finals. Both teams are coming off wins, though about as different as you can imagine. The Lakers beat the Mavericks in an ugly 73-70 contest Monday, which included a nasty 7-point 3rd quarter for L.A. Kobe Bryant finished with a very human 15 points, though he still demanded a double-team in the final seconds. That led to a Derek Fisher 3-pointer to win the game. The Heat, meanwhile, put up 120 points as they beat the Spurs by 22 on Tuesday night. They outscored San Antonio 39-12 in the 3rd, which consisted of 6 three-pointers and 75% shooting overall. Lebron James was MVP-esque in the second half as the home team left Tony Parker and Tim Duncan in the dust.

Thursday’s game features Miami’s ‘Big 2′ (Dwyane Wade is still out with an ankle sprain) versus the ’Big Three’ for L.A. (Bryant, Bynum, and Gasol). Everyone wants to look at Kobe vs Lebron here, but the problem is they don’t really guard each other (well, I have no doubt the Black Mamba will force Mike Brown to put him on LBJ for stretches). No, the matchup I’ll be watching is Pau Gasol against Chris Bosh. Both are much maligned by both media and fans, and rightly so. They have All-World games but not All-World mentalities…aggressiveness is not their strong-suits. Quite frankly, they fade like Jason Terry‘s hairline whenever their superstar teammates assert themselves. Forget offense for a second, these two need to contribute on the boards for each team to be successful. Joel Anthony is outmatched on the boards vs Andrew Bynum, and we all know there’ll be plenty of boards with Kobe looking to atone for his meager scoring effort vs. Dallas. I expect Bryant to put up a lot of shots and outscore Lebron (as it should be). As for the PF matchup on the glass, I see Gasol getting beat on the boards by the more active Bosh.

Another matchup to watch will be the start of the 2nd quarter. Two rookie back-up point guards will be running both teams…Norris Cole and Darius Morris (Steve Blake is out with fractured rib cartilage). Which rookie PG will keep the ship afloat while the stars rest? James will need a blow and there’ll be no Wade to help out in the backcourt. Morris, meanwhile, has gotten less playing time than Cole (the 2012 Boobie Gibson) thus far and is still trying to find a balance between being aggressive and staying with th e gameplan. The Norris-Morris Show will be a key in both the 2nd and 4th quarters of the game.

Thursday night, I look for the Lakers to lead going into the 4th and then to get blitzed by the Heat in the final stanza. Miami will feed off of their crowd just like they did against the Spurs Tuesday night.

What will happen in June? that’s a different story…..

UPDATE: (1:24pm EST) Lebron James leaves practice early with flu-like symptoms. He will be a game-time decision.

(6:12pm EST) LBJ will be in the starting lineup.

 

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One Response to Lakers at Heat: Finals Preview?

  1. Ernest on February 4, 2012 at 3:46 am

    If the LAkers make it to the Finals I am selling my car haha

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