The Heat and the Lakers rekindle the Bubble NBA Finals rivalry on NBA TV Philippines tomorrow at 8:30 AM live.
What’s up with the Los Angeles Lakers?
For the most part of this season, the Lakers aren’t in a good stretch, winning only two of their last six games. In three of those games, LeBron James had been his usual spectacular self, averaging 34 points per game and eight assists. The numbers were definitely not enough though.
The Lakers are badly missing Anthony Davis. Russell Westbrook also missed a couple of games in this horrible stretch. There’s a silver lining in the form of guys like Thomas Bryant and Austin Reaves but their contributions have yet to translate to actual wins. Their latest win versus the Orlando Magic wasn’t something to write home about but it again showed Bryant going back to his pre-injury form with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
What’s up with the Miami Heat?
The Miami Heat are winners of their last five, putting them at 17-17 in the standings. Their win-loss record gets them in play-in tournament territory, which is nowhere near the projections for this Heat team at the start of the season.
There’s no need for alarm bells just yet. Miami has been dealing with injuries here and there and has yet to pull together a string of games where they’re at full force. There’s promise with Victor Oladipo getting more minutes and Orlando Robinson stepping to fill in the void left by the hurt Heat big man.
Storyline to watch out for
It’s been a while since the Lakers and the Heat were the title favorites. A lot of changes have happened since the Bubble Finals, and they haven’t been the good kind. The Lakers’ roster problems have been talked about a lot but the Heat also have their own challenges with their manpower. While the Lakers are dealing with new parts and chemistry issues, the Heat is finding a way to pump life to a core that is still intact from the 2019 finals run.
Miami has been desperately trying to inject new life and new faces into Heat Culture. LA is still trying to survive this rough patch without AD. This game won’t be pretty but a Jimmy Butler-LeBron James marquee matchup is something that shouldn’t be missed. Butler, unfortunately, is questionable to play in this one because of his right ankle sprain, so that’s something to watch out for.
If the Heat should go out there without Butler, it would be tough for them to beat the Lakers. Bryant gets another chance to dominate against a very thin Miami frontline while Heat replacements Haywood Highsmith and Orlando Robinson have another chance to step up. If either Butler or Bam Adebayo (questionable due to an illness) misses this game, the advantage immediately switches to the Lakers.