Lakers at Heat, Three Things to Know: April 8, 2021
The Lakers (32-19) are set to go against their 2020 Finals opponent, Miami (26-25), on Thursday evening at 4:30 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet.
Below are three things to know in advance of the matchup:
The Lakers will welcome Andre Drummond back into the starting lineup after he missed three straight games after injuring his toe in his Lakers debut against Milwaukee last week.
Frank Vogel said Ben McLemore will be available tonight against the Heat.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) April 8, 2021
Andre Drummond will return from the toe injury.
Kyle Kuzma is questionable with calf tightness and will be a game time decision.
Frank Vogel confirmed on Thursday morning that Drummond is available, and emphasized the importance of getting him integrated into the team’s style of play on both sides of the court. In Drummond’s absence, Marc Gasol has been terrific, averaging 9.7 points on 60.0% FG’s, 7.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.7 blocks in 24.3 minutes. How Vogel manages minutes for Drummond, Gasol and Montrezl Harrell even before Anthony Davis returns will be interesting.
MCLEMORE DEBUTS, THT SITS
While the Lakers may get a look at new wing and 3-point gunner Ben McLemore, signed this week, they’ll be without Talen Horton-Tucker against Miami, as the young guard was suspended for leaving the bench area in the incident between Dennis Schroder and Toronto’s O.G. Anunoby on Tuesday in Tampa. THT has been excellent off the bench as the lead playmaker of late, and averaged 16.0 points on 51.4% FG’s plus 2.3 assists to 1.3 turnovers in the last three games. Alex Caruso will have to pick up the bench playmaking role against Miami.
Meanwhile, McLemore could see immediate minutes for the shorthanded Lakers, who could also be without Kyle Kuzma, who’s listed as questionable with calf tightness. The Lakers faced McLemore as a Houston Rocket last postseason, when he hit three threes apiece in Games 4 and 5 of the Western Semis. McLemore shot 50.0% on corner 3s this season (21/42) — 12th among the 111 players with at least 40 corner 3’s. That gives the Lakers another option there especially once LeBron – the ultimate creator of open corner 3’s – gets back.
Just like the Lakers, the Heat have felt the difficult of playing the league’s longest ever season through Game 6 of the Finals on Oct. 11 into the league’s shortest ever offseason. At 26-25, they rank 6th in the Eastern Conference, with several key players missing time. Jimmy Butler has played 36 of 51 games; Bam Adebayo 45; Tyler Herro 40; Goran Dragic 32; and Kendrick Nunn 38. Miami recently traded for Victor Oladipo, who’s shooting just 31.4 percent in his three games.
And yet, the Lakers can likely expect Miami’s best effort; a Finals opponent the previous year tends to bring that out. The Heat were on a 4-game winning streak prior to a Tuesday loss to Memphis, and they do have several quality wins this season when they’ve cranked things up, beating Utah, the Lakers, and the Bucks. Their defense has been stingy, ranking 7th (109.4) though their offense is just 25th on the season (108.3).
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