The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Miami Heat in South Beach on Thursday evening with LeBron James in devastating form. Although the match-up may look one-sided on paper, the Lakers are back to playing with swagger, while the Heat are struggling.
Miami has dropped four of its last seven games. Thursday’s game, unfortunately for the Lakers, is in Miami, and all four of those losses came on the road. On the season, Miami has only three losses at the American Airlines Arena.
The Lakers, however, feel confident at the moment. Fresh off hearing news that Kobe Bryant will be reevaluated sometime early next week, Nick Young’s Lakers are looking to go streaking. An overtime session in Chicago ended poorly, but LA displayed stellar defense and competed for the duration of the game. The Lakers tied a season-high with 11 steals in the last game, as evidence of the increased defensive intensity.
In the game prior, the Lakers were down 19 points against the Toronto Raptors before fighting back and claiming victory. The team is showing fight and trending in the right direction. Regardless of the opposition, confidence is currently high in the squad.
Young has been an especially confident and vocal member of the Lakers this season. The man who nicknamed himself “Swaggy P” has hit the 20-point mark in 12 of his last 18 games. Against the Chicago Bulls, Swaggy P dropped 31 points—the first time any Laker has broken the 30-point mark this season. Young also went for 29 points against the Raptors, so he's been knocking on that door.
Despite the Lakers’ overall record, the former USC Trojan is making a strong case for the NBA’s 6th man of the Year. Young is averaging 18.2 points per game when coming off the bench, ranking Swaggy P best in the NBA in points per game for players who have come off the bench on 20 or more occasions this season.
In Miami, Young will get another opportunity to duel with James. On Christmas Day, the pair went back and forth with Young getting the better of the one-on-one match-up, even if James and the Heat ultimately walked away winners.
With the Lakers playing in front of a national audience, Swaggy P will look to add some more fans--last time, it was Steve Kerr. This time, though, the Lakers will hope to walk away with a win.