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Heat/Lakers is Game Heat Nation Deserves

The Miami Heat host the Los Angeles Lakers Friday in what could be this year’s most anticipated matchup to date.

The timing could not be better.

Miami (18-6) will put their undefeated home record to the ultimate test against a Los Angeles Lakers (22-3) team which has only lost one away game.

Finally the (well deserved) national attention will be on a Heat team that is the most enjoyable in years.

All NBA eyes will be on the American Airlines Arena for the ESPN broadcast, and rightfully so.

A lot of people expected the Lakers to be here, with the combination of Lebron James and Anthony Davis along with a solid supporting cast.

However few outside our market expected this quick cohesion and success from the Heat.

An ignorant or lazy narrative on Jimmy Butler and how he would mesh with a young core.

 

A lack of understanding that Erik Spoelstra only needed a functional, uncluttered roster to free untapped greatness.

 

Now the Heat enter this game with a chance to add momentum to an ascending national profile.

Against Lebron James and a Los Angeles team which has also reset trajectory and expectations instantaneously.

The Lakers have won five straight and 15 out of 16 games, their lone defeat a 114-100 home loss to Dallas.

Miami will have their hands full with a Laker offense that leads the NBA in field goal percentage at 48.7%.

Where they hurt you is down low with Anthony Davis who absurdly leads them in points (27.2), rebounds (9.2), blocks (2.6), and steals (1.5) per game.

They do not rely on the three point shot, attempting the sixth lowest (30.1) per game, but they make them at a 37.1% clip which is fifth best league-wide.

That counters Miami’s excellent defense beyond the arc, their biggest challenge in terms of matchups may be how to stop Davis in the block – who can also stretch the floor from the outside.

The keys for the Heat

For the Heat to have a chance they will have to take care of the ball as they are turning it over a league-high 17.7 times per game. Los Angeles leads the league in blocks per game and are third in steals.

While national respect is not a motive for the Heat in any way, shape, or fashion, you know they will want to put on a show under the brighter lights.

The Lakers had an extra rest day Thursday after a 96-87 slugfest win at Orlando on Wednesday.

Miami enters off another home victory, this time a 135-121 overtime thriller against Trae Young and the Hawks on Tuesday.

Young apparently forgot the Heat are closing games this year.

 

A matchup with two teams rated in the top 10 both offensively and defensively means something has to give.

Both teams should be fresh and expect a full 48 minutes of excellent basketball in this one, the always electric Triple-A should have even more juice Friday.

As should the case for more national spotlight in Heat Nation.

 

 

Five Reasons

LeBron James again dumps young players, gets his guy

Somewhere Andrew Wiggins is chucking a bad shot, and smiling.

Just as he did in Cleveland, LeBron James has traded in the future for the present. Patience, as he’s admitted, is not his thing. This time, he did give his new young teammates a season, and it was a brutal one. This time his role in the departure of said young players was more direct, since his agent Rich Paul engineered Anthony Davis’ exit from New Orleans. But just as was the case when the Cavaliers dumped Wiggins for veteran Kevin Love upon James’ arrival, the Chosen One has chosen to go for the now rather than the later.

And who can blame him.

He’s bionic, but he’s now 34, and we saw him start to break down just a bit last season, even if his numbers were exceptionally strong.

Here are the details of this deal, and the devil is in those, since  two of the three first round picks shouldn’t be very high.

It’s not forever, however, even if you’d assume Davis would want to stay.

Why didn’t Boston get him?

Well, you knew this was coming.

Danny Ainge is the king of close calls, and somewhat questionable refusals.

Now James must deliver. The Warriors are reeling, the Rockets have holes (and may move Chris Paul) and there doesn’t seem to be another clear power in the West.

James went to Los Angeles for reasons beyond basketball.

Now maybe, with arguably the best sidekick he’s ever had (different than Dwyane Wade, with less duplication) he can get back to it.

And it means that Miami is still the only place where he wasn’t engineering personnel moves. At least not so many of them.

Could Miami Heat make a play at Anthony Davis?

Any time there’s a prominent player ready to move, you’ll hear the Miami Heat mentioned.

This is still a desired destination, even if the Heat’s disastrous summers of 2016 and 2017 have prevented Miami from being in position to receive anyone. Pat Riley said, during his end-of-season presser that he was essentially waiting on a star to force his way here — which means then telling GM Andy Elisburg to make the damn numbers work.

Could they work for Anthony Davis?

Davis is the prototypical Riley target, like Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Hardaway and so many others after. He is disgruntled. He wants out, even apparently after the Pelicans lucked into position to draft Zion Williamson to play with him. And he has something to prove, after never lifting his team to a conference finals.

Then, today, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders put Davis on a list of teams in the hunt for the former Kentucky star.

How does this happen?

Well, the Heat would have to gut the roster. All the talk of pivoting to the Kids. Yeah, that wouldn’t be happening. At least 2 would have to go, most likely, plus contracts to make the money work.

Would it be worth it?

I posed that question, and most say yes.

It’s roughly a 2-to-1 margin.

And this makes sense.

Waiting is not the Heat way.

You have Caron and Lamar, you flip them for Shaq.

Get the star. Sort the rest out.

I love Bam Adebayo’s potential and personality.

But this is an impatient fan base at this stage, and that matters.

Davis makes the Heat relevant again, immediately. He rarely stays healthy, but maybe would here in the Heat’s conditioning program. He’s not known as a problem guy. He has every skill imaginable.

Please, for the sake of interest in our network, make it happen, Pat. It’s your parting gift to South Florida, before you retreat to Malibu.