(Photo By: Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)
Lakers vs. Heat: 3 Things to Know (3/16/18)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers host the Miami Heat.
1) IT has been the boost the Lakers needed
All season long, the Lakers sought a playmaker to direct the second unit, to varying degrees of success.
But a trade for arguably the most overqualified sixth man in the NBA has washed away those questions about the need for a secondary point guard.
Two-time All-Star Isaiah Thomas has given the Lakers just what they needed in that role. Since the All-Star Break, he ranks second among bench players in scoring (18.2) and third in assists (5.7).
Last game, injuries required that Thomas step into the starting lineup, and he performed admirably, extending his 20-point scoring streak to three games.
2) Offense has been flaming as a whole
The Lakers have soared since the All-Star Break, winning eight of their first 11 games.
Much of this has to do with the sudden ascension of an offense that ranked near the bottom of the league for most of the season.
Post-All-Star, the Lakers’ offense has seen few hiccups. During this stretch, they rank second in the NBA in scoring (116.3), first in 3-pointers (13.8) and among the top five in field goal (48.0) and 3-point percentage (39.6).
It has been an across-the-roster effort to get to this point.
Julius Randle has been one of the league’s most dominant players of late. Thomas, Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have all hit their hottest streaks as Lakers. Lonzo Ball has directed the offense while also playing stellar defense.
The result has been the Lakers’ best ball of the season and 12 wins in their last 13 home games.
3) Both squads will be shorthanded
Many of the Lakers’ potential lineups will depend on the health of Kyle Kuzma, who is questionable due to a sprained ankle.
With Kuzma injured for Wednesday’s game at Golden State, the Lakers were rail-thin at the wing, and were forced to cobble together odd combinations like a three-point-guard, two-center lineup.
Miami can certainly relate to the Lakers’ woes, as they will be without four key rotation players: Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade, Dion Waiters and (likely) Josh Richardson.
Still, the Lakers have plenty of firepower from the likes of Randle, Thomas and Lopez, who have been consistently reaching 20 points over recent weeks.
But the Heat are known for their depth, and will be a tough challenge with All-Star Goran Dragic leading the way and coming off a 33-point performance in Sacramento on Wednesday.
Lakers: Brandon Ingram (left groin strain), Josh Hart (left hand fourth metacarpal fracture) and Channing Frye (appendectomy) are out. Kyle Kuzma (sprained right ankle) is questionable.
Heat: Hassan Whiteside (left hip pain), Dwyane Wade (mild left hamstring strain), Dion Waiters (left ankle surgery), Derrick Jones Jr. (G League) and Derrick Walton Jr. (G League) are out. Josh Richardson (left foot soreness) is doubtful.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes in L.A. NBA TV nationally
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: Black City
Location: Staples Center — Los Angeles, California