Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers Preview (1/4/23): Prediction, Starting Lineups, Odds

The Miami Heat (20-18) face the Los Angeles Lakers (16-21) in a battle between teams that have rostered LeBron James. Dewayne Dedmon is questionable for Maimi, and they will be without Duncan Robinson. Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and Lonnie Walker IV are out for Los Angeles, so they are extremely depleted offensively.

Can the short-handed Lakers avenge their previous 112-98 loss to Miami? Odds, predictions, starting lineups, and key matchups are below.

Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers Betting Odds

Miami is a sizable favorite, as the spread is -8.5 Heat with their moneyline at -345. Meanwhile, the Lakers must win 26% of the time for their +295 moneyline to be profitable long-term. It’s worth noting that the Heat are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 meetings with the Lakers, and the under is 11-4 in the last 15 meetings.

Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers Prediction

Based on injuries and team/individual matchups, I’m taking the Heat to cover -8.5 here (I got it at -6.5 before the LeBron injury news broke).

The Lakers offense ranks 4th in transition frequency and 3rd in pace adjusted FGA within five feet of the basket. If Los Angeles cannot thrive in these areas, then their offense falls apart because of their terrible three-point shooting and lackluster off the dribble scoring. In addition, it has been imperative that LeBron James scored 30+ points to keep games close. With him out, the Lakers will struggle to merely score 95 points here.

Enter the Heat, who own a suffocating defense. Per ShotQuality, they lead the NBA in Adjusted Defensive ShotQuality, which measures opponent shot quality per possession adjusted by strength of schedule. Essentially, Miami forces their opponents into the lowest expected points per possession and would currently have the best luck-removed Defensive Rating.

The strength of their defense lies in their ability to snuff out quality transition looks, as they rank 1st in transition defense shot quality points per possession. Also, the Heat rank 2nd in pace adjusted opponent FGA within five feet of the basket and force opponents into tough attempts when they do get a shot off. Miami’s weakness is their three-point defense, but the Lakers are not the team to exploit that area.

On an individual level, Miami has the personnel to limit the Lakers. Jimmy Butler is one of the best on-ball defenders in the league, and Caleb Martin is a smart, active defender. The duo has Bam Adebayo to rely on too – an elite rim protector and help defender. Miami’s defense also ranks 2nd in opponent turnover percentage and 5th in opponent free throw rate, so they will wreak havoc without providing free throws.

On the other end, Miami’s offense isn’t anything to brag about. They are 24th in Offensive Rating and lack consistency; however, it is trending upwards. Adebayo has improved his offensive aggression and should dominate Thomas Bryant. Herro and Butler can break down the Lakers defense off the dribble, and their perimeter shooting is better than their percentage.

These teams just played on December 28th with LeBron in the game, and the actual score was 112-98 Heat with the ShotQuality score at 109-92 Heat. I expect Miami to perform even better here, so -8.5 is valuable.

Betting Trends

  • Heat are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall
  • Lakers are 7-19-1 ATS in their last 27 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record
  • Over is 6-2 in Lakers last 8 overall
  • Heat are 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings
  • Under is 11-4 in the last 15 meetings in Los Angeles

Key Matchups

Which team will win the key matchups? Check out below for these vital battles.

Dennis Schroder & Russell Westbrook

The Lakers are down their top three scorers, so they will be scraping points from the end of their rotation. Schroder and Westbrook are their best scoring option despite their inefficient tendencies, so the Lakers desperately need 20+ points from each of them. If both players underperform, then Los Angeles will inevitably be blown out.

3PT Shooting

Los Angeles has to dominate the three-point matchup for them to try to keep pace. Given that their three-point shooting is abysmal, they will need plenty of luck to accomplish this. The Heat are susceptible, but it’s unwise to back the Lakers from counting on this.

Miami Heat Starting Lineup

PG: Kyle Lowry
SG: Tyler Herro
SF: Jimmy Butler
PF: Caleb Martin
C: Bam Adebayo

Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup

PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Dennis Schroder
SF: Patrick Beverley
PF: Troy Brown Jr
C: Thomas Bryant

Key Injuries

Miami Heat Injuries: Caleb Martin (P), Duncan Robinson (O), Gabe Vincent (P), Dewayne Dedmon (Q), Omer Yurtseven (O), Nikola Jovic (O)

Los Angeles Lakers Injuries: Anthony Davis (O), LeBron James (O), Russell Westbrook (P), Lonnie Walker IV (O)

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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