The LA Lakers and Miami Heat square off at the AmericanAirlines Arena on Thursday night in an enticing NBA season matchup. The Heat beat the Lakers in their previous encounter earlier this season in a closely contested matchup.
The Miami Heat, meanwhile, struggled with injuries initially but now have a healthier squad at their disposal with all their key players available. The Heat are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference. Erik Spoelstra's men will have to capitalize on the squad depth they have at the moment to make sure they avoid the play-in tournament.
LA Lakers vs. Miami Heat - Match Prediction
The LA Lakers' form without LeBron and AD has been indifferent in the last 10 games they have played. The Lakers have recorded four wins and six losses, managing wins against weaker opposition and losing against top sides during that stretch.
However, the LA Lakers have momentum on their side from the last game, where they beat the Toronto Raptors 110-101, courtesy of a solid team effort. Seven of their players scored in double-digits against the Raptors.
The Miami Heat, on the other hand, were in brilliant form before they lost 112-124 to the Memphis Grizzlies in their last outing. They were on a four-game winning run during that period and will be eager to do well at home against a depleted LA Lakers side.
The Miami Heat will be favorites to win this game, but if the LA Lakers manage a good start as they did in the last game, the tie could swing in their favor. Overall, it seems like an evenly matched contest that may even go down to the wire.
LA Lakers vs.Miami Heat - Combined 5
Point Guard - Dennis Schroder l Shooting Guard - Victor Oladipo l Small Forward - Jimmy Butler Power Forward - Kyle Kuzma l Center - Bam Adebayo
The LA Lakers and Miami Heat have two of the best squads in the league who could wreak havoc if put on the same team. On that note, we take a look at a hypothetical combined five comprising of players from both the teams below.
LA Lakers' Dennis Schroder gets the nod ahead of Miami Heat's Duncan Robinson in our hypothetical combined five lineup. The German has been a more solid player overall and has better stats than Robinson this season.
Schroder is averaging 15.3 points, 5.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game so far. He has been their most reliable player in the absence of LeBron and AD.
We have included one of the Miami Heat's latest recruits for the shooting guard position - Victor Oladipo. He has been in sublime form this season despite his injury problems. Oladipo is averaging 19.9 points, 4.7 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game so far. His scoring average is higher amongst all the starting guards across the two rosters.
The two forwards in our hypothetical combined five lineup would be the Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler and the LA Lakers' Kyle Kuzma. Butler is leading the charge for the Miami Heat with 21.2 points, 7.3 assists and 7.5 rebounds per game this season.
Kuzma, meanwhile, has shown a lot of improvement compared to previous seasons. The 25-year-old is averaging 12.6 points and a career-high 6.8 rebounds per game this year.
If the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis were available for this matchup, they would have made it to this combined five lineup ahead of Butler and Kuzma.
However, with the superstar duo ruled out at the time of writing, Butler and Kuzma are the two best players after them, earning a spot in this hypothetical lineup.
The center position will be given to the Miami Heat's Bam Adebayo in this edition of the combined five lineup. Adebayo, alongside Butler, has been key to almost all of the Heat's wins this season. He is averaging 19.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.2 blocks per game this campaign.