Miami Heat, Hassan Whiteside Will Face Struggling Lakers


Tonight’s game between the Miami Heat (26-33) and Los Angeles Lakers (16-43) lacks the luster of past matchups. Still, Miami is focused on continuing to gain ground in the Eastern Conference while the Lakers…well, there’s always the Bahamas.

Start Time: 8:00 p.m. EST
Location: Game will be played in Miami at the AmericanAirlines Arena
TV Info: Fox Sports/ESPN
Radio: 104.3 The Ticket

It’s been a rough season but Miami got some good news on Tuesday, even though Hassan Whiteside‘s wallet will be a little bit lighter. The Heat center was ejected from Monday’s victory over the Phoenix Suns for an altercation with Alex Len. Here’s a video of the incident:

The NBA reviewed the incident and fined Whiteside $15,000 (Len was fined $20K) but did not suspend him as many expected to be the case.

Whiteside should be able to dominate a Lakers team that has been struggling to find their identity.

No one expected Los Angeles to be a title contender this season but they’ve lost key players to injury, have been handcuffed by a coach that seems out of touch and has a cast of characters that are better known for their eccentric personalities than their play on the court.

The Lakers are in the midst of a difficult stretch, having lost nine of their last 12 games including a 102-101 loss to Charlotte on Tuesday. They might not have Nick Young (sore knee) on the floor against Miami and are slapping together a lineup of has-been’s and never-were’s that is already planning ahead to their summer vacations.

The Heat, however, can’t afford to take any opponent lightly. The Hornets win means they’ve climbed up in the standings and stand just a half-game back of Miami (currently the seventh seed). Just three games separate the 7-12 ranked teams in the Eastern Conference and a loss to the Lakers could be disastrous.

There were encouraging signs from the Heat against Phoenix, not the least of which was the incredible scoring of Goran Dragic (21 points in just 15 minutes of play) and Tyler Johnson (26 points). They’ll need these kinds of contributions against a Lakers team that ranks dead last in opponent’s points per game (106.1). Dragic has been up-and-down since joining the Heat but, as per, he’s averaged 20.5 points in four games against L.A. this season, including a 24-point, nine-rebound effort on January 19.

But it’s hard to predict exactly how Miami will perform on any given night, a fact the players themselves are all-too aware of, judging from Dwyane Wade‘s comments to reporters earlier this week:

"“This year, there’s been no normal. Not for us. You wake up and you’re on eggshells. I think everybody is, because something might happen.”"

It sounds a little paranoid but, as Nirvana once sang, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you. The Heat have fielded dozens of different starting lineups and their roster is almost completely revamped from when they started the season. Still, they’re competing for a playoff spot and that’s an accomplishment in and of itself.

They could use a win to provide a slight cushion against other Eastern Conference hopefuls and the L.A.’s futility certainly bodes well. The Lakers have lost their last six games in Miami and are just 1-of-9 in the second game of a back-to-back set.

There’s a lesson here for Heat fans – as bad as things are, they can always be worse.

Check back with All U Can Heat for post-game grades, analysis and a full recap.

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