In a repeat of last season's NBA final, the LA Lakers and Miami Heat will square off at the American Airlines Arena on Wednesday. In their first meeting of this season, the Miami Heat prevailed over the LA Lakers 96-94.
The LA Lakers head into this matchup off a solid 110-101 win over the Toronto Raptors. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat enter this contest off a 112-124 defeat against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Fixture: LA Lakers vs Miami Heat | NBA Season 2020-21.
Date & Time: Thursday, April 8, 2021; 7:30 PM ET (Friday, April 9th; 5:00 AM IST).
Venue: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL.
LA Lakers Preview
In this period, they have won just four times while losing on six occasions. The reigning champions have struggled massively against the top teams, which is something they will be mindful of when they take on the Miami Heat.
In their last game, the LA Lakers won despite the absence of new signing Andre Drummond and Montrezl Harrell, who just featured for two minutes before being ejected out of the game.
Frank Vogel's side started the game aggressively, outscoring the Raptors 68-42 in the first half and scoring a plethora of three-pointers. The LA Lakers ended the night shooting 49.4% from the field, including a 45% clip from downtown as seven players scored in double-digits to round off a brilliant team performance.
Key Player - Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol played his best game of the season against the Toronto Raptors. He scored 13 points, provided five assists and made nine rebounds and four blocks against his former team. His performance provided a crucial boost to the LA Lakers, who had to contend with Harrell's early ejection.
Gasol also looks more motivated than ever after looking a bit frustrated since the addition of Drummond to the LA Lakers roster. The Spaniard said after the game against the Raptors:
"I'll stay ready. I'm going to tell you this: I'm fully committed to the team. I'll stay ready when my number is called."
Regardless of whether Drummond makes his return or not, Gasol could play a crucial role for the LA Lakers in this game.
He will be up against the in-form Bam Adebayo, though. If Gasol is able to limit Adebayo's threat, the LA Lakers will fancy their chances of winning consecutive games on their East Coast road trip.
Point Guard - Dennis Schroder l Shooting Guard - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope l Small Forward - Kyle Kuzma l Power Forward - Markieff Morris l Center - Marc Gasol.
Miami Heat Preview
The Miami Heat were in solid form before their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Jimmy Butler and co. were on a four-game winning run and will be eager to get back to winning ways against a depleted LA Lakers side.
The Miami Heat have also had their issues with injuries to key players but now have a healthier roster.
The addition of Victor Oladipo, Trevor Ariza and Nemanja Bjelica has also improved their side a lot, which is something they should be looking to capitalize on against the LA Lakers.
Key Player - Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler will be playing against a LeBron James-less-LA Lakers. That should give Butler a great advantage at both ends of the floor, making him a lethal weapon for Eric Spoelstra's side.
Butler was sensational in the last game, tallying 28 points, five assists and two steals on the night while shooting at 68.8% from the field.
His form and momentum from the last game makes him a key player for the Miami Heat against the stuttering reigning champions.
Point Guard - Victor Oladipo l Shooting Guard - Duncan Robinson l Small Forward - Jimmy Butler l Power Forward - Trevor Ariza l Center - Bam Adebayo.
Lakers vs Heat Match Prediction
If the last match between the two sides is anything to go by, their latest face-off could be an enticing affair. That makes it slightly tricky to pick a favorite in this game.
However, considering how the LA Lakers have tended to fare against strong opponent teams without LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Miami Heat could start as the marginal favorites.
Where to watch Lakers vs Heat?
The game between the LA Lakers and the Miami Heat will be televised nationally on TNT. Local coverage will be available on Spectrum SportsNet. The match can also be streamed live with an NBA League Pass.