Over the past week the Los Angeles Lakers have slowly integrated Kobe Bryant back into the lineup, after his six-month absence due to a torn Achilles. Los Angeles is 2-4 since the return of Bryant but is coming off of a solid road victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Lakers will have three more games to tune up for their big Christmas Day game versus the Miami Heat. Due to their incredible success under Kobe Bryant, the Lakers have been a regular participant on Christmas Day for years with many memorable games. This year will be no exception when the Lakers welcome in Lebron James and the two-time defending NBA Champion Miami Heat into STAPLES Center. Much maligned after his exit from the Cleveland Cavaliers, James has taken his already incredible game to an even higher level this season, operating at an offensive efficiency that few players in league history have ever achieved.
Here’s a look at what to expect when Miami visits the Lakers on Christmas Day:
Expect to pay an arm and a leg for Lakers Vs Heat Tickets on Christmas Day. Prices for Lakers Tickets on Christmas Day against the World Champion Miami Heat can run roughly two and a half times the average game. A 300 level “get in the door” ticket usually will cost about $90 per ticket but for the Lakers Vs Heat they can run $215 per ticket. A 200 level for the Lakers Vs 76ers is about $168 per ticket, but the same section (207) for the Heat is about $566.00 per ticket. Dead Center section 111 row B for an average game can run $625.00 per ticket, and for the Lakers Vs Heat, it is about $1750-$2000 per ticket. If prices are too steep and after your done opening presents you can always go down to the Staples Center to check out LA Live and the crowd around the Venue then hop into our office next to the Staples Center and see if there are last minute tickets available at a lower price.
Lebron James is really, really, really good: With Lebron James ascending to levels that few have reached, fellow stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have taken a back seat to the Heat superstar. James is shooting just under 60% and 41% from behind the three-point line. Under the leadership of Erik Spoelstra, James has refined his game to maximum efficiency, shooting from select spots on the floor, while maximizing his unique passing skills and vision. Considering how well he’s played the last two seasons, it’s hard to fathom that James continues to get better as a player. Dwyane Wade, who nearly singlehandedly won an NBA title in 2005, has dealt with chronic knee pain over the past three seasons and has to play in spurts, typically missing back-to-back games and playing fewer minutes this season. Bosh has carved out a secondary role that emphasizes his unique ability to extend the floor as a big shooting man, helping make the Heat ball-movement offense work.
The Lakers are a lot more fun to watch: Last year’s debacle, where the Lakers barely made the playoffs after being touted as a title contender coming into the season, was a failure on multiple fronts. Beyond the underachievement of the team was the fact that Los Angeles just wasn’t fun to watch. The Lakers offense was stagnant and plodding due to their lack of youth and multiple players (like Gasol) playing out of position. This year’s club may not be as talented, but they’re a lot younger and a lot more fun to watch. Mitch Kupchak has done an excellent job infusing life into the lineup on a limited budget.
Miami has built a solid core: General Manager Pat Riley has smartly made a veteran core around James, Wade, and Bosh through smart moves and veterans taking reduced contracts. Shane Battier is versatile defender often found guarding power forwards while providing grit on the boards and hitting the open three point shot. Ray Allen, perhaps the greatest three-point shooter in league history, hit one of the biggest clutch shots in league history last season to send game six of the NBA Finals to overtime. The ageless Allen helps extend the floor as one of eight legitimate Heat three-point shooting threats. The Heat shoots just under 39% as a team from behind the three-point line.
The surprising evolution of Michael Beasley: Perhaps the most exciting Heat acquisition is Michael Beasley, the former second overall pick who fizzled out in Minnesota and Phoenix. Beasley is a talented scorer who may have found a home during his second stint with Miami. He has an impressive PER of 22.1 while averaging 11.4 points per game in just 17 minutes played. Beasley is shooting lights out 55% from the field and 50% from behind the three-point line.
Kobe the Distributor: During his re-insertion into the lineup Bryant has often taken a secondary role, more of a classical “point-forward,” looking to make the extra pass. As he gets comfortable, athletically his shot volume should increase, and he should once again be the go-to guy down the stretch. Bryant hasn’t quite found the rhythm yet, but his minutes and offensive contribution are increasing.
Any STAPLES Center crowd and the national television audience should eagerly tune in to see how Bryant, coming off a potentially career-ending injury, can match up with the reigning champions. Expect a great deal of energy from the Lakers, especially from their athletic youngsters like Wesley Johnson and Nick Young. With Pau Gasol, the Lakers will have an advantage over the smallish Heat interior and will need to exploit the big Spaniard’s advantage in the post to offset the heavy Heat “small-ball” attack. Look for a spirited effort from the Lakers, especially Bryant, as they play in front of a national television audience. By:Chris Michaels