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Heat can game plan against the Lakers, but LeBron James has practically faced every one

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The showdown in Tinsel Town promises to be an epic battle even this early in the season.

Los Angeles Lakers v Philadelphia 76ers

Miami Heat can prepare for the Los Angeles Lakers, but teams have been trying to stop LeBron James with mixed results since 2003.

The Lakers’ starting five is a veteran group(ages): James (34), Danny Green (32), JaVale McGee (31), Anthony Davis (26), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (26).

To boot, clubs have double-and-triple teamed James and Davis for years, so they’re used to being in these pressure situations for a long time.

That said, one telling number reveals how much defense drives the Lakers this season: the On-Off Plus/Minus numbers for the roster (minimum 100 minutes).

  • Dwight Howard, plus 27.4
  • LeBron James, plus 18.1
  • Quinn Cook, plus 15.0
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, plus 9.7
  • Danny Green, minus: 2.7
  • Alex Caruso, minus 4.6
  • Anthony Davis, minus 7.7
  • Avery Bradley, minus 10.4
  • Troy Daniels, minus 14.9
  • JaVale McGee, minus 20.2

The effect of Howard on the ramped-up defensive effort of the Lakers can’t help but be noticed, although he’s foul-prone, i.e. 4.1 PF per 21.7 minutes on average.

LeBron: “We want to be one of the best defensive teams, if not the best defensive team in the league. We have guys that take pride on that side of the floor. We don’t want guys to score on us, even though they will since we are all NBA players, but we have a great scheme.”

With 90% of the season remaining, the Heat and Lakers are two 2018-19 lottery teams projected to significantly increase their win totals from last season: Heat from 39 to 53, and Lakers from 37 to 55.

Simple Rating System (SRS) gives a slight edge to the Heat over the Lakers: Milwaukee Bucks 12.42, Heat 10.05, Lakers 9.97.

The Lakers play like the Denver Nuggets on steroids, so hopefully Miami can right the ship this time as they perform before their homegrown legend, Dwyane Wade.

The Heat might even impress Davis with their youth and hustle as Pat Riley watches his new team confront the one from his early years.