Los Angeles Lakers v Miami Heat
5:00pm ET/10pm GMT. 25/12/10
Fisher is the elder statesman of the Los Angeles Lakers. While Kobe Bryant is undoubtedly the leader of this team, Fisher's experience in the league is just as vital to a team that every game is a big game. Fisher's value to his team is not evident in his stats. Fisher averages 7.4 points, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game this season. His real value to the team is his teamwork and defensive stability. Fisher is the unsung hero in the starting line up as he allows other players to dominate the stat sheet while he continues to be part of teams that pick up championships.
Similarly to his opposing Point Guard, Arroyo's stats are not reflective of his level of play this season. Being one of the two non Big Three starters on the Miami Heat comes with that handicap. Arroyo has been a reliable performer for the Heat splitting time with Mario Chalmers at the point guard position. His stat line reads 6.7 points, 2.1 assists and .3 steals per game. His lowly assist total is reflective of the fact that the ball is often out of his hands in the half court offense. Arroyo is not known for his shooting but has managed 49% from the field, 5% higher than his career average.
Bryant leads the team in points per game, 25.9, and assists per game, 4.6, which isn't news to anyone. Bryant is also battling a minor finger injury coming into the game but he is expected to play, which is also not news to anybody. Bryant is averaging less points and assists this season compared to last but that is mostly due to the increased time Pau Gasol is on the floor due to the injury to Andrew Bynum.
Wade has overcome his early season struggles after suffering an injury and dealing with off court issues that made him miss the preseason. Wade is averaging 23.5 points per game with 4.3 assists per game but what is most notable about his play as of late is how he and Lebron James have figured out how to play together. Wade and Lebron's combinations are vital to the speed of the Heat's offense.
Apart from his erratic character, Ron Artest will bring a big defensive presence to the defensive side of the ball for the Lakers without being a liability on the offensive end. Artest is contributing 7.7 points per game with a team leading 1.6 steals per game. Artest is a solid shooter, hitting 42% of his shots, who often gets open looks because of the talent that is around him.
James is leading the team in Minutes(37.2), Points(24.3) and Assists(7.2) The reigning two time M.V.P has shown that he can produce whether it be Miami or Ohio but has found himself playing much more of the point guard role this season. The change in style may be startling but James all around ability hasn't left him and neither has his claim to being the best player in the league.
Odom is often the catalyst of the Lakers that can be the difference in the outcome of games. The Lakers can rely on Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to consistently perform, but when Odom has a big game as well it is almost impossible for teams to stay with them. Odom is averaging 16 points per game and 9.9 rebounds per game as a starter. He has played big minutes in the absence of Andrew Bynum and proven the fact that he could be a full time starter on almost all teams in the league. His time on the court is likely to drop slightly with the return of Bynum and he will most likely return to the bench but his production should not waver.
It's probably fair to say that Bosh is the smaller of the big three in ability but his physical size is crucial to the Heat both on offense and defense. The Heat are a team that is lacking serious size and Bosh is their most talented big man. He may be the third option now after being the first option in Toronto for so long to the point that he broke the scoring record in the franchises history but Bosh is still managing 18.2 points per game as well as 7.9 rebounds per game. Bosh is similar to Pau Gasol in that he does not use his physicality to impose himself on the game but has the talented to work the ball into position and shoot from the perimeter.
Gasol's switch from Power-Forward to Center has not hurt his production this season. Gasol is averaging 19.8 points per game, 11.1 rebounds per game and 2.1 blocks per game. Gasol's dominance in the paint has further proven how he has evolved physically since joining the Lakers a few years ago. Gasol should be able to take advantage of the soft interior defense that the Heat will bring to Los Angeles.
Ilgauskas is a solid shooter and overall player but does not physically intimidate the paint or defend big men particularly well. His matchup with Pau Gasol and the returning Andrew Bynum will be crucial to the outcome of the game. Ilgauskas has the range to block shots and has 1.1 blocks per game this season. He is contributing 5.1 rebounds per game in 18.2 minutes per game.
Barnes came over from the Orlando Magic during the offseason where he was a starter and specialist defender. Barnes is a very solid player who has been giving the Lakers' quality play with starter's minutes. Barnes will likely spend some time defending Lebron James while contributing with outside shooting on the offense with a 35% 3 point shot on the season.
Haslem has only played 13 games but is managing 26 minutes per game with 8 points and 8 rebounds per game. Haslem was a vital piece of the Miami team before the big three came together, he is a solid starter with plenty of experience who needs to perform in the paint if the Heat are to win this game. He will need to improve on 8 rebounds especially in this game.
Andrew Bynum is not a bench player. Bynum is a starter in waiting for the Lakers as he returns to full health from a serious knee injury at the end of last season. Four games into his comeback Bynum had his best statistical game scoring 16 points but felt some soreness in his knee which has made his status doubtful for this game. Bynum's presence will be a huge boost for the Lakers as he should be able to dominate in the paint against the undersized Heat.
Chalmers has been splitting time with Carlos Arroyo recently as the Heat's Point Guard. Chalmers' field goal percentage hasn't been good this season and he is not a renowned shooter. He scored 13 points in a recent loss to Dallas however was only 30% from the field. Chalmers is a young player who's development is struggling as part of the Heat's team.
Brown's explosion hasn't been limited to his dunking this season as he has averaged 10.4 points per game coming off the bench. Brown has assumed Lamar Odom's sixth man role from last season and taken to it with great pride. Brown is 4th on the team in points per game while being 8th on the team in minutes per game.
Jones is the Heat's best outside shooter averaging over 44% from the three point line and 44.8% shooting overall. Jones does not offer much outside of his shooting but his shooting is vital in the continued absence of Mike Miller. Jones is fifth on the team in points per game benefitting hugely from the open looks that he is given.
Steve Blake has brought a much needed outside shooter to the Lakers this season and is an upgrade over the departed Jordan Farmar from last season. He is shooting 46% from beyond the arc.
Anthony is part of the problem for the Heat. He is a center who averages 17 minutes with only 3 rebounds per game. The Heat do not look for Anthony on the offensive end but he needs to clean up the boards.
Los Angeles Lakers' Starters-40 Miami Heat Starters-41
Los Angeles Lakers' Key Bench Players-28 Miami Heat Key Bench Players-22.5