The LA Lakers will host the Miami Heat at the Staples Center on Wednesday in a rematch of the 2020 NBA Finals. The Lakers have been underwhelming this season, while the Heat have pleasantly surprised with their incredible chemistry.
The Lakers have been bit by the injury bug en route to a 6-5 record so far. They blew double-digit leads against the rebuilding OKC Thunder, the youngest team in the NBA, twice in a week. They have also had close wins against the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Charlotte Hornets.
LeBron James is reportedly out for a few more weeks, which could be disastrous for the team. Meanwhile, Westbrook's turnovers have turned into a nightmare, while Davis' injury issues constantly linger over the LA Lakers.
The Miami Heat, meanwhile, have been excellent to begin the season. They are fourth in offensive rating and fifth in defensive rating so far. The Heat are second in the Eastern Conference with a 7-3 record, but have the best win% at .700.
They have had no chemistry issues, with their new additions Kyle Lowry and PJ Tucker blending seamlessly into coach Eric Spoelstra's system. Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler is making his case for the NBA MVP award, while Tyler Herro has emerged as an early favorite for the Sixth Man of the year award.
Miami Heat Injury Report
The Miami Heat are dealing with their fair share of injuries this season. They have their 6MOTY candidate, Tyler Herro, starting center Bam Adebayo and starting forward PJ Tucker all listed as questionable.
Victor Oladipo continues to be out due to his prolonged recovery from knee injury, while bench players like Max Strus and Caleb Martin are both probable for this game.
Most importantly, Markieff Morris is officially ruled out of the contest because of the incident against Nikola Jokic. The reigning MVP shoved Morris in the back, which caused his neck to whiplash (sudden jerk). Coach Erik Spoelstra called the play 'dangerous, dirty' and also said it was 'uncalled for'.
LA Lakers Injury Report
Lakers Nation is far-too-familiar with this feeling, as the LA Lakers have been dealing with a lot of injuries lately.
The most unfortunate one is their superstar talisman LeBron James who is expected to be out for a while. According to Tim DiFrancesco, the LA Lakers' former head of strength and conditioning, King James is set to miss roughly 4-8 weeks because of his abdomen strain.
Anthony Davis' status has been upgraded from questionable to probable. Bench players Austin Reaves and Rajon Rondo are both listed as questionable due to left hamstring strain, which hampers the LA Lakers' depth and rotations.
Meanwhile, Sekou Doumbouya and Jay Huff are both fulfilling two-way contract duties. Kendrick Nunn, Talen Horton-Tucker and Trevor Ariza continue to be out for the foreseeable future.
Miami Heat vs LA Lakers: Predicted Lineups
The Miami Heat backcourt is intact, while the frontcourt is facing issues. Bam Adebayo and PJ Tucker are both questionable, but could play. If they don't lace up, Dewayne Dedmon could start as the center while KZ Okpala plays as power forward.
Jimmy Butler should continue to be the starting small forward. Kyle Lowry will likely run the point guard position, with Duncan Robinson joining him in the backcourt. The Miami Heat's bench has been hampered, so coach Spoelstra will not have a lot of depth for this game.
The LA Lakers will probably use the lineup from their last game to start this contest as well.
Russell Westbrook and Avery Bradley will likely run the backcourt, with Westbrook as the point guard. Anthony Davis is probable for this game, and he could lace up as the power forward. DeAndre Jordan should continue to be the starting center, while Dwight Howard comes off the bench.
Kent Bazemore has been shifted to the small forward position until LeBron James comes back. LA Lakers, like the Heat, also don't have a lot of depth for this game except Carmelo Anthony who has been lights out for them.
Miami Heat vs LA Lakers: Predicted Starting 5s
G - Kyle Lowry | G - Duncan Robinson | F - Jimmy Butler | F - PJ Tucker | C - Bam Adebayo.
G - Russell Westbrook | G - Avery Bradley | F - Kent Bazemore | F - Anthony Davis | C - DeAndre Jordan.
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