(Anna Lupean/Los Angeles Lakers)
Lakers at Heat: 3 Things to Know (12/13/19)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers visit the red-hot Miami Heat.
1) Return to South Beach
It’s always a special night when LeBron James is in the building, but there’s something a little extra when he’s visiting one of his former teams.
LeBron returns to the city where he won two MVP trophies, two championship rings and two Finals MVP awards. Now he’s on the quest for even more hardware, currently leading the NBA in assists and ranking ninth in scoring.
Last time James played in South Florida, he put on his greatest show as a Laker thus far. Early last season, he erupted for a 51-point game — 32 more than anybody else who played that night — and did so with flare befitting one of the all-time greats. He hit impossible shot after impossible shot, draining a collection of fadeaways and step-backs, while also unleashing some vicious slams.
2) Matchup to watch: James vs. Jimmy
Two of the game’s elite small forwards are going head-to-head, as LeBron squares off against Jimmy Butler for the second time this season.
Both players are coming in hot off triple-doubles, with LeBron putting up 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in Wednesday’s win over Orlando, while Butler dropped 20 points, a career-high 18 boards and 10 dimes in the Heat’s overtime victory against Atlanta. Bron also led the Lakers to victory in the season’s first matchup, when L.A. held Miami to just 80 points last month.
However, Butler is one of the few players with a career winning record against James (14-8) — though LeBron owns the postseason battles (8-3). Either way, Butler will prove himself a formidable foe. He’s a human battering ram, who averages the league’s second-most free throws (7.7), while playmaking for himself and others. On the other side, he’s as aggressive as they come, ranking second in the NBA in steals (2.1).
The straight up bodying. pic.twitter.com/fYIs1oWYTr— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 12, 2019
3) Someone’s streak is going to end
The Lakers have won 12 straight on the road. The Heat are undefeated in 11 home games. Something’s gonna have to give.
Currently second in the Eastern Conference, Miami has torn its way to an 18-6 start, ranking among the NBA’s top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating. The Heat have been excellent at the arc on both sides of the floor, hitting the league’s third-best 3-point percentage (39.2), while holding their opponents to the second-worst (32.1).
Last game showed just how much firepower the Heat have, as three players scored their career-highs on the same night: Breakout undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn (36 points); Duncan Robinson (34), who also tied the franchise record for 3s in a game (10); and Bam Adebayo (30), who matched Butler with a triple-double of his own.
Lakers: Anthony Davis (right shoulder soreness) and Avery Bradley (hairline fracture, right leg) are probable. Rajon Rondo (left hamstring strain) and Kyle Kuzma (left ankle sprain) are questionable. DeMarcus Cousins (rehabilitation, right knee) are out.
Heat: Tyler Herro (illness) is questionable. Goran Dragic (groin), Justise Winslow (back) and Dion Waiters (illness) are out.
Tip-Off: 4 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet locally, ESPN nationally
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 Tu Liga
Unis: Gold City
Location: AmericanAirlines Arena — Miami, Florida
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