Austin Reaves and LeBron James

Three Things to Know: Lakers at Heat - 1/23/22

by Mike Trudell

The Lakers (23-23) are in Miami (29-17) to face the Heat for game two of their six-game trip, following a Friday evening win at Orlando. The contest tips at 3:00 p.m. Pacific on Spectrum SportsNet.

Below are three things to know about the matchup:

On Saturday afternoon, we got an update on Anthony Davis, who’s missed 16 straight games since spraining his left MCL against Minnesota on Dec. 17.

Davis has been progressing steadily with his rehabilitation, most recently completing a pregame workout in Orlando. Davis will go through another workout prior to tipoff at Miami, consult with the team’s medical staff, and they’ll make a collective decision about whether he’ll return for Sunday’s game.

The Lakers have gone 7-9 in AD’s absence, after managing a 3-0 mark when he missed time earlier this season.

His return would be a major boost for Frank Vogel, on both sides of the court, against a Heat team L.A. last played back on Nov. 10.

The Lakers managed to beat Miami 120-117 in OT on Nov. 10, despite missing LeBron James due to the abdominal injury that kept him out for eight games.

Malik Monk exploded for 27 points on a super-efficient 10 of 13 FG’s, with Russell Westbrook putting up a 25-point, 14-assist, 12-rebound triple-double, and Davis pitching in 24 points, 13 boards and four assists.

Miami was healthy for the matchup, starting their preferred five of Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, P.J. Tucker and Bam Adebayo. And while they just got Adebayo back from an extended absence, they’re expecting to be without both Lowry (personal) and sixth-man-of-the-year candidate Tyler Herro (health and safety protocols). Furthermore, Tucker is questionable after leaving Miami’s Friday night loss at Atlanta after only eight minutes of action due to calf soreness.

If Davis plays, Kendrick Nunn (bone bruise) would be the only Laker to miss the game. It will be a rarity for the Lakers to be the team carrying fewer injuries into a matchup than their opponent this year. Indeed, LAL have missed 143 games due to injury and illness, plus another 38 games due to health and safety protocols.

Gabe Vincent has been starting at PG in the absence of both Lowry and Herro, and big man Omer Yurtseven could see additional minutes if Tucker is out, as could wings Caleb Martin and Max Struhs.

Tune into a Laker game, and chances are you’ll see Austin Reaves hit the floor, hard, several times a game. Such is his combination of effort and IQ that he puts himself in places that opposing offensive players end up plowing into him. The Arkansas native anticipates movement, moves his feet very well, and rarely allows a straight line drive to the rim.

In his 570 minutes on the court this season, Reaves has already drawn 12 charges, which ranks sixth in the NBA. The five players who have drawn more have played an average of 978 minutes apiece.

Reaves told us on Spectrum SportsNet prior to the Orlando game that he sees taking charges merely as part of his job, as he tries to contribute to getting stops. Can it hurt a bit? Sure. But that’s never deterred Reaves, who’s happy to put his body on the line in the interest of winning games.

Reaves has cooled off from a scoring perspective of late, totaling 16 points in the last four games after going for 16 vs. Memphis, and 19 at Sacramento, on Jan. 9 and 12. But his defense has been consistent throughout.

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