Things You Already Know:
The Miami Heat just completed one of the biggest, most stunning trades in years, sending former Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal back out west to the title-contending Phoenix Suns. In exchange, the Heat received versatile forward Shawn Marion and reserve guard Marcus Banks. While the blockbuster trade has been slammed by experts across the nation, almost all of the negative attention has been directed at the Suns, as Miami was not winning with O’Neal in the lineup anyway and they also rid themselves of Shaq’s atomic contract.
Unfortunately for the Heat, this trade is too little too late for this season as they currently own the NBA’s worst record at 9-39, including several prolonged losing streaks. Dwyane Wade has been one of the lone bright spots for the Heat this year, fighting through a host of injuries to average over 24 points and seven assists a night. Udonis Haslem has also been solid with 12 points and nine rebounds a game on a roster that is filled with unreliable and unproven players.
Things You Might Not Know:
The Heat average only 92 points per game—one of the worst figures in the entire league. Marion should energize them on offense with his array of high-flying moves, but the rest of the roster—aside from Wade—still seems largely inept at putting the ball into the hoop. Miami doesn’t help its case on defense where they give up over 100 points a night to their opponents. Marion should come in handy on that end too.
While at first glance, the Heat roster appears to be loaded with balance, the numbers are misleading; Miami has four players who average between seven to nine points, but, aside from Wade, only Ricky Davis—at 13.5 points a night—has the potential to bust out for 30 plus points on a given night.
Things You Need To Know:
Barring any unforeseen events, Sunday’s game against the Lakers will almost certainly mark Marion’s debut in a Heat uniform. While the Lakers are coming off an impressive road win in Orlando on Friday and will have a day off in between their matchup with Miami, L.A. needs to be weary of the initial energy surge that often comes from teams who have recently completed trades.
However, what could have been one of the premiere games on the NBA calendar this season should now be an easy win for the Lakers thanks to Miami’s downfall. It’s hard to believe that only a few seasons ago, Wade and O’Neal were hoisting the Heat’s first championship trophy. With the buzz that’s followed their matchups the past few years virtually gone, Sunday’s tilt is just another game on a long road trip for the Lakers.