Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bynum: Advantage for the Lakers

The Miami Heat have shown this season that they have trouble against teams with formidable post men, and that will come back to haunt them on Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Heat's last two losses came against the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets. Against the Clippers, they allowed Blake Griffin to go for 20 points and 12 rebounds and DeAndre Jordan to grab 11 rebounds and swat six shots. Against the Nuggets, they gave up 17 points and 12 rebounds to center Nene Hilario.

Now, headed into a matchup featuring the resurrected Andrew Bynum, the Heat have a problem on their hands.

It should come as no surprise that the Heat have struggled in the paint defensively. They're starting Joel Anthony at center, after all. This has been their Achille's Heel the past two seasons, and they may want to think about finding someone before the trade deadline.

There's been a lot made about Kobe Bryant and LeBron James headed into this matchup, and for good reason. Bryant and James are the top scorers in the NBA so far this season.

But the Heat should be just as worried about Bynum. Bynum, who has been rumored as a potential trade piece for Dwight Howard this season, has been quieting those rumors. In 11 games, he's averaged 16.5 points, 13.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. He's coming off a 17-point, 15-rebound performance against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks.

How will the Heat stop Bynum? That's a good question. I don't see an easy solution. They may have to double him, but that could open up some easy shots for Bryant, which certainly isn't ideal. The simple answer is that the Heat can't realistically stop Bynum; he can only stop himself. The way Bynum is playing right now could see the Lakers exceed expectations this season after a tumultuous offseason.

There's no question that Bynum, when healthy, has been one of the best centers in the league, and some place him right behind Howard at the position. He not only figures to have a big game on Thursday, but he could have the Heat finally realizing they have a problem.

If Bynum continues to dominate, we could realistically see the Lakers and Heat in the NBA Finals this season.

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