The Los Angeles Lakers are riding an eight-game winning streak as they head into their match-up against the Miami Heat tonight. The two teams are going in completely opposite directions right now as the Lakers have regained championship form since the All-Star Break while the Miami Heat are facing a five-game skid with several collapses in the fourth quarter.
The last time these two teams met, the Heat got the best of the Lakers on their home floor and they did it handily. But these two teams look completely different today and this is a game that the Lakers should win. Chris Bosh is in a major funk right now and with Andrew Bynum dominating games defensively of late, the Lakers are going to have an enormous advantage downlow. On the wings, Kobe will cancel out Dwyane Wade and the combination of Ron Artest and Matt Barnes is just about as good as a duo you can have to defend LeBron James. And at this point in the year, the Lakers’ bench is way deeper than Miami’s.
It is entirely possible that the Heat’s two stars come out angry and get a dedicated win over the Lakers. And if there is any way to render Andrew Bynum ineffective right now, it’d be to get him foul trouble, and there isn’t a more capable duo than James and Wade when it comes to attacking the basket and drawing contact.
I think the Heat need this game more than the Lakers, but Los Angeles is clearly the better team right now and in the end I think the Lakers’ superior team will win out over the will of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. This feels like one of those games where Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum will dominate the glass while Kobe Bryant and one of the Lakers’ other guards (Fisher, Brown or Blake) pour in 50 combined points.
We’ll see what happens tonight, just remember not to cry if your team is on the losing end of this contest.
The Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks were both involved in nail biters yesterday. Both teams feature one of the top crunch times options in the league but only one of them came through last night. Carmelo Anthony‘s 19-footer over Tony Allen secured the win for the Knicks over the Grizzlies yesterday while Dirk Nowitzki‘s jumper in the closing seconds of a one-point game fell short as the Mavericks blew a double digit lead in the fourth quarter to the New Orleans Hornets.
The Knicks will be without Chauncey Billups tonight, but Toney Douglas has been playing at a high level of late and the Knicks should be able to put up a good fight against one of the top six teams in the league in Dallas. Though New York has lost to the Cavs twice since acquiring Carmelo Anthony, they have defeated the likes of the Miami Heat, the Atlanta Hawks and the surging Memphis Grizzlies and another win against a team as good as the Mavs would do wonders for their track record as the post-season nears.
Dallas could use a win in this game if they want to retain the second seed in the Western Conference. The Lakers’ eight-game winning steak has them just a half game back of Dallas for second place and a win for the Lakers and a loss for Dallas will gave LA sole possession of the two seed. If that ends up happening, the Mavs will have to beat the Lakers this Saturday in order to stop the Lakers from their surge – if not, then the Mavs will likely have to settle of third place.