Well, the Los Angeles Lakers fell victim to the classic trap game. Not to take away from the Orlando Magic, but with bouts against the only two other teams LeBron James has ever played for coming up next, it was apparent fairly early on that the he and his new teammates were looking ahead to the crowds that James had previously won titles for.
The Miami Heat (6-9) present some tough matchups for the Lakers in their own right, even if James’ return won’t offer up the emotional response that Tuesday night’s game in Cleveland will. For starters, Goran Dragic is still a very good point guard who is more than capable of carving up the Lakers, especially after seeing D.J. Augustin make his case for the All-Star Game Saturday night. Lonzo Ball will also have to be more effective offensively if the Lakers hope to have a chance.
What’s interesting is that Orlando’s frontcourt actually offered up a much tougher challenge than Miami’s, even if fewer people have heard of Nikola Vucevic, Mo Bamba and Jonathan Isaac compared to Hassan Whiteside and really anyone Miami has to offer.
In all seriousness, Bam Adebayo offers up some of the same concerns that Orlando’s young frontcourt does, and Kelly Olynyk’s pick-and-pop ability could prove to be an issue in its own right.
Still, at the end of the day, it’s hard to see LeBron going into Miami and playing as lackadaisically as he did in Orlando. Some of the plays he was making in the Lakers’ last loss would make Lance Stephenson blush. It’s one thing to not care on the defensive side, but his effort on offense was somehow more disappointing despite scoring 25 points.
Fortunately, because of the blowout in Orlando, everyone important should be well-rested for this game in Miami — even if the Orlando, Miami back-to-back can present its own, um, issues.
The Lakers need this one after dropping what should have been a win against the Magic. Given the fact that this is a return to a city in which LeBron played previously, he and his teammates should be able to rise to the occasion, but you just never know.
Tip-off for this one is 3:00 PM PST and can be watched locally on Spectrum SportsNet.