2 Keys to Victory: Lakers vs. Heat

USA TODAY SPORTS

The .500 Los Angeles Lakers are well-rested and ready to take on the 19-14 Miami Heat at home in their first game of 2024.

At 17-17, the Lakers enter this month with the opportunity to change their trajectory for the rest of this season, starting tonight against a Miami team without their former Eastern Conference Finals MVP, Jimmy Butler.

As both teams look to end their two-game skids, let’s look at our two keys to victory for the Lakers to pull this one out.

Heat Short Handedness

The Lakers met the Heat in Miami in November and came up one point short of emerging victorious.

This loss was fueled by particularly strong play from Heat stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, who combined for 50 points, 24 rebounds, and 16 assists in that game. Tyler Herro also chipped in 22 points, contributing in the scoring category to help edge out the Lakers in that game. 

However, when both teams last played, Anthony Davis only played 25 minutes and scored a season-low nine points to go along with six rebounds.

He was experiencing back spasms and was forced out of the game several times. The Lakers were also without forward Rui Hachimura.

Tonight, we’ll see the two teams that went down to the wire just two months ago play once again, yet this time, rather than the Lakers being without their star player, it’s the Heat at a disadvantage.

With the Lakers practically fully healthy outside of Rui Hachimura, they should be able to contain the short-handed Heat.

Big Second Half

Miami has struggled in the second half during their two-game losing streak.

In the first half of their last two, the Heat posted a modest 112.1 offensive rating and 115.3 defensive rating; however, these numbers dipped to 102.0 and 122.5 in the second half.

Their +- in the first half is -1, and in the second, it is -11.5. Miami has simply not been good in the second half during this two-game road skid. 

The Lakers need to find a way to capitalize on Miami’s flatness coming out of the break. In Laker losses, they have scored an average of 52.3 points in the second half compared to 59.0 in wins.

While their FG% rises by three in the second half in wins compared to losses, their 3P% is the reason for their big second halves in wins. At 40.5%, the Lakers improved their three-point shooting from 31.9% to 8.6% in the second half in wins compared to losses.

If the Lakers can find their three-point shot in the second half, they could take advantage of the Heat’s struggles and take over this game. 

The Lakers hope to tie the season series in what can be the start of a winning streak for the purple and gold.

With 10 of their next 15 at home, the LakeShow can build momentum to start their January home stretch by capitalizing on the Heat’s short-handedness, controlling the second half, and bringing home the W.

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