Lakers draw Heat in first home game of 2023

Lakers look to win rematch against Miami after losing to them on Dec. 28.

Ahh, the comforts of home.

For all intents and purposes, the Lakers did well on their latest road trip, going three up and two down to put their record to 16-21. LeBron James was ridiculous in that five-game road trip, averaging 36.6 points, 8.6 boards, and 6.2 assists while shooting .585 from the field. And he turned 38 years old during that trip.

That was punctuated by going 47-10-9 against the Atlanta Hawks last Friday and then 43-11-6 against Charlotte on Monday. However, he is questionable against their next opponents on Wednesday. The opponents? A team that beat them last week: the Miami Heat.

The last time these two teams faced each other, it didn’t go very well for the Lakers. You can point to two things on why the Lakers didn’t play well. The first was the schedule. It sounds like an excuse since every team goes through this but the Lakers had to be fatigued 24 hours after they defeated the Orlando Magic. It’s an unfortunate part of the NBA life where teams have to play in consecutive days.

The second thing was the one that stuck out the most: turnovers. Not only did Miami take care of the rock (they only had five against the Lakers; they average the fourth fewest in the league as of this writing) but they forced the Lakers to play such sloppy basketball. L.A. had 24 turnovers and I had mentioned that the Heat are great at making the teams uncomfortable (currently third in forcing the most turnovers). Not to mention that the Heat just feasted after the turnovers; they scored 31 points off Laker giveaways while Los Angeles only managed two points off the few Miami turnovers. So it might just come down to that for this game.

Jimmy Butler did his work in that game, going for 27 points, five rebounds, four assists, and five steals. Bam Adebayo went for 23 points and 14 boards against the Lakers but over his last two games, he’s averaging 31.5 points and 10.5 boards. It’ll be fun for the Lakers trying to stop a Bam Adebayo that’s on fire.

LeBron James had 27-9-6 against Miami but he was out of gas by the end of the game. What they needed was help from Lonnie Walker IV and Austin Reaves but they both came out with goose eggs (zero points) against the Heat.

Speaking of LeBron and Lonnie, they’re both questionable as of this game. (UPDATE: LeBron and Lonnie are deemed out for this game.) Russell Westbrook is probable after he left the game against Charlotte due to foot soreness.

As for the Heat, Nikola Jovic (not Jokic) will be out for a few weeks due to a back injury. Caleb Martin and Gabe Vincent are probable (quad and knee injuries, respectively) while Duncan Robinson (hamstring), Dewayne Dedmon (foot), and Udonis Haslem (Achilles) are all questionable.

The Lakers are off to a great start in 2023. Let’s see if they can keep the good vibes going at home. Maybe the unusual rainy days here in Southern California will make the Heat go away.

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