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Miami Heat: Forecasting Games To Christmas Showdown Vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Rich FernandesCorrespondent IDecember 14, 2016

Miami Heat: Forecasting Games To Christmas Showdown Vs. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Miami Heat fans are blistering mad, and who can blame them after the Miami Thrice's much-maligned rock star introduction prompted the greatest of expectations, only to be followed by mediocrity.

    It has become the ultimate Miami Heat quandary—fantastic talent and very little accomplishment.

    But in order to get good, a team has to get bad first, and the Miami Heat have accomplished “bad” in spades.

    The Heat are an absolute mess and fans are calling for the firing of coach Eric Spoelstra at firespo.com, but the problems are much greater than the coach. 

    Chris Bosh is defenseless, LeBron James does not have a defined role and is playing aimlessly and Dwyane Wade just went 1 of 13 from the field against the Indiana Pacers.

    The Miami Heat are facing a kind of adversity that they had not anticipated.

    With Udonis Haslem out for the long term, the Heat’s only viable option is to bolster the post with unsigned free agent Eric Dampier.

    Miami’s interior game has taken a dramatic hit with Haslem’s absence and Chris Bosh’s smoke and mirrors play has not helped the situation.  Bosh is still getting bullied in the post and is allowing enemy putbacks and penetration into the paint. 

    After Haslem left the game with the foot injury, the Heat were out-rebounded 15-4 by the Grizzlies.  You’d be a fool to not notice that this team lacks a certain pedigree on the defensive end.

    Dampier averaged six PPG with Dallas last season, but more importantly contributed 7.3 rebounds over 23.3 minutes per game.  He should be an improvement.

    Yet, the solution does not only lie in a big man like Erick Dampier that can defend the paint.  In Miami’s blowout losses this year, its shooting and turnover rates were putrid.  

    Against the Indiana Pacers, the Heat were 4 of 20 from three-point range and committed a whopping 22 turnovers. 

    In addition, the Heat were outscored 38-18 in the paint.  They also had 25 more free throws than the Pacers, making just 25 of 38 attempts.

    The talent is obviously there but the effort and synergy all too often has been lacking.  Obviously chemistry is intrinsic to any team’s success, and a concerted effort must be made to build it.

    LeBron James has to rediscover his innate ability to impose his will on the game and Dwyane Wade has to rediscover his leadership role.

    With the much anticipated Christmas day matchup between the Miami Heat and the L.A. Lakers looming just one month away, there is time to get better. 

    There is time for the Miami Heat to build team chemistry and synergy over the 17 games that lay ahead before the big Christmas day faceoff.

Nov. 24 @ Orlando Magic: Projected LOSS Brings Heat Record to 8-7

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    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss:  Loss No. 7

    Winning/Losing Streak:  Three-game losing streak

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  Seventh in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  W 96-70 

    The Chris Bosh Killer:  Dwight Howard

    Erick Dampier Factor:   He is not in the lineup yet.

    Analysis:  The Magic have only one thing on their minds, and that's paying back the Heat for the embarrassing loss they received in front of their own fans.  Dwight Howard is a defensive force and his offensive game is improving as well. 

    If freeloaders Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis decide to grace Orlando with their presence on the court, this should be an easy win for the Magic.

    All in all, considering both the fragile mental and physical state that the Miami Heat are in right now, they would require a lot more confidence to beat one of the league's best teams.

    Miami Loses.

Nov. 26 Vs. Philadelphia 76ers: Projected WIN Brings Heat Record to 9-7

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    Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss:  Win No. 9

    Winning/Losing Streak:  One-game winning streak

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  26th in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  W 97-87

    The Chris Bosh Killer:  Elton Brand

    Erick Dampier Factor:   He is not in the lineup yet.

    Analysis:  Dwyane Wade is still hurting (sprained wrist) and his continued play may prove negative for the Heat, but this is a game that Miami should win if Wade doesn't throw up too many bricks.

    Andre Iguodala is back in the 76ers lineup, returning from an Achilles tendon injury.  Elton Brand is not the dominant force he used to be on offense or defense, but he should still give Chris Bosh his usual big man troubles and Thaddeus Young’s play has been good enough to raise some eyebrows.

    Rebounding is a major problem for the 76ers, and as such they should not pose much of a threat to the Miami Heat, who will break a three-game losing streak (Grizzlies, Pacers and Magic).

    Miami Wins.

Nov. 27 @ Dallas Mavericks: Projected LOSS Brings Heat Record to 9-8

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss:  Loss No. 8

    Winning/Losing Streak:  One-game losing streak

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  Sixth in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  none 

    The Chris Bosh Killer:  Dirk Nowitzki

    Erick Dampier Factor:   He is not in the lineup yet.

    Analysis:  The Dallas Mavericks are a top-six team that will pose many problems for the Heat, who are still in the process of getting their act together after the Udonis Haslem mishap.  The Mavericks will impose their backcourt size and overall depth on the Heat.

    Certainly new Maverick Shawn Marion (ex-Heat player) would have helped Miami's situation greatly.

    All in all, considering both the fragile mental and physical state that the Miami Heat are in right now, they would require more confidence to beat one of the league's best teams.

    Miami Loses.

Nov. 29 Vs. Washington Wizards: Projected LOSS Brings Heat Record to 9-9

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    Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss:  Loss No. 9

    Winning/Losing Streak:  Two-game losing streak

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  27th in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  none

    The Chris Bosh Killer:  JaVale McGee

    Erick Dampier Factor:   He is not in the lineup yet.

    Analysis:  The Wizards are not the best team in the NBA and on paper the Heat are certainly much better, but the Wizards will reflect the same Indiana Pacer conundrum for the Heat, who will still be too gun shy to pull out a win.

    John Wall is proving to be a superstar in his rookie year, and the Heat have shown that they have problems with elite point guards.  Also without Haslem or Dampier, Bosh will get swallowed alive by the likes of seven-footers JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche.  McGee is averaging over 11 rebounds in his last four games, not good news for Chris Bosh.

    Miami Loses.

Dec. 1 Vs. Detroit Pistons: Projected WIN Brings Heat Record to 10-9

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    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss: Win No. 10 

    Winning/Losing Streak:  One-game winning streak 

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  26th in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  none

    The Chris Bosh Killer:  Ben Wallace

    Erick Dampier Factor:   He is not in the lineup yet.

    Analysis:  A struggling but talented Pistons team picked the wrong time to go head-to-head with the Miami Heat, because the Heat are gaining more confidence.

    The Heat will get this win due to overall improved confidence from their Big Three.  The shellshock from losing Haslem and feeling sorry for themselves should be officially over.

    A greener pasture lays ahead.

    Miami Wins.

Dec. 2 @ Cleveland Cavaliers: Projected WIN Brings Heat Record to 11-9

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss: Win No. 11 

    Winning/Losing Streak:  Two-game winning streak

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  23rd in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  none

    The Chris Bosh Killer:  Antawn Jamison

    Erick Dampier Factor:   Should be in the starting lineup and ready to go.

    Analysis:  This matchup will mark LeBron's first visit to Cleveland and his first game against his ex-teammates since alienating them with his decision.

    The Heat starters will find an overall comfort level with Dampier in the lineup to help support the post.  This alone will take an incredible burden off Chris Bosh.  However, Bosh should still have his hands full with the talented Antawn Jamison, but that will not be enough to slow down the Heat.

    Miami Wins.

Dec. 4 Vs. Atlanta Hawks: Projected WIN Brings Heat Record to 12-9

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss: Win No. 12 

    Winning/Losing Streak:  Three-game winning streak

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  16th in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  none

    The Chris Bosh Killer:  Al Horford

    Erick Dampier Factor:   Making a major difference by freeing up Chris Bosh.

    Analysis:  The Miami Heat are on the road to reaching their potential, but are not quite there yet.  As a result of the Heat's game beginning to flow, the Hawks will have little chance of beating their nemesis.

    The Heat's cylinders are starting to hum and LeBron James is reminding everybody what a force he used to be.

    Miami Wins.

Dec. 6 @ Milwaukee Bucks: Projected WIN Brings Heat Record to 13-9

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss: Win No. 13 

    Winning/Losing Streak:  Four-game winning streak

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  17th in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  none

    The Chris Bosh Killer:  Drew Gooden

    Erick Dampier Factor:   Making a major difference by freeing up Chris Bosh.

    Analysis:  The Bucks are a very talented team full of underachievers who never seem to rise to the occasion.  On the other hand, Udonis Haslem is becoming a distant memory and the Miami Heat are playing well together.  There is no more talk about parties after games or chilling because a newly found drive has been instilled in the players.

    Superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will find breathing room to roam and score.

    The Heat will get this win due to overall improved confidence from their Big Three, and a newfound chemistry that has eluded them since they bolted to Miami.

    Miami Wins

Dec. 8 @ Utah Jazz: Projected WIN Brings Heat Record to 14-9

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss:  Win No. 14

    Winning/Losing Streak:  Five-game winning streak

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  Fourth in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  L 114-116

    The Chris Bosh Killer:  Paul Millsap

    Erick Dampier Factor:   Improving the low post game and freeing up Chris Bosh.

    Analysis:  The Utah Jazz are a top five team that will try to pose many problems for the Heat, and this game will truly be a test to see if the boys from Miami are legit.  With a newly found flow, the Heat will be hard to stop this time and Dampier will ensure that Millsap does not light up Chris Bosh like he did in their previous meeting.

    Superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will have another great game and are starting to get used to strutting their stuff game in and game out.

    The Miami Heat swagger is back and this time they know they're good on the court instead of just on paper.

    Miami Wins.

Dec. 10 @ Golden State Warriors: Projected WIN Brings Heat Record to 15-9

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss: Win No. 15 

    Winning/Losing Streak:  Six-game winning streak

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  20th in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  none

    The Chris Bosh Killer:  David Lee

    Erick Dampier Factor:   Making a major difference by freeing up Chris Bosh.

    Analysis:  The Warriors are a very talented team full of underachievers who never seem to rise to the occasion.  Superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will find breathing room to roam and score.

    The Heat will get this win easily, and it may even be a blowout.

    The Heat are humming on all cylinders and LeBron James is showing what a force he can be on a nightly basis.

    Miami Wins

Dec. 11 @ Sacramento Kings: Projected WIN Brings Heat Record to 16-9

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss: Win No. 16 

    Winning/Losing Streak:  Seven-game winning streak

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  21st in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  none

    The Chris Bosh Killer:  Carl Landry

    Erick Dampier Factor:   Making a major difference by freeing up Chris Bosh

    Analysis:  The Kings are a very young and talented team with tremendous potential that will only be realized as they get older. 

    For now, the Kings will serve as a confidence booster for the Heat who will get this win easily, and it may even be a blowout.

    Dwyane Wade will light up the scoreboard, and Chris Bosh will start to become the double-double machine he was known for in Toronto.

    Miami Wins

Dec. 13 Vs. New Orleans Hornets: Projected WIN Brings Heat Record to 17-9

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss: Win No. 17 

    Winning/Losing Streak:  Eight-game winning streak

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  Fifth in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  L 93-96

    The Chris Bosh Killer:  David West

    Erick Dampier Factor:   Making a major difference by freeing up Chris Bosh.

    Analysis:  What can be said about Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets that has not already been said? They have proven to be a top-tier team as unexpectedly at the beginning of this season as the Heat were expectedly supposed to prove themselves.

    But a lot has changed in the Miami Heat's chemistry since these two teams last met, and the Hornets will face a credible center in Erick Dampier to take the heat off Bosh.

    This game may be close again, but the Heat should prevail and extend their winning streak. 

    Miami Wins

Dec. 15 Vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: Projected WIN Brings Heat Record to 18-9

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss: Win No. 18

    Winning/Losing Streak:  Nine-game winning streak

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  23rd in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  Forecasted win

    Don't Look Now But: LeBron James is consistently averaging a triple-double.

    Erick Dampier Factor:   Making a major difference by freeing up Chris Bosh.

    Analysis:  This matchup will mark LeBron's second faceoff with his former team, and this time it's in Miami. 

    The Heat starters will find an overall comfort level with Dampier in the lineup to help support the post.  This alone will take an incredible burden off Chris Bosh.  However, Bosh should still have his hands full with the talented Antawn Jamison, but that will not be enough to slow down the Heat.

    Miami Wins.

Dec. 19 @ New York Knicks: Projected WIN Brings Heat Record to 19-9

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss:  Win No. 19 

    Winning/Losing Streak:  10-game winning streak

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  19th in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  none

    Don't Look Now But: Dwyane Wade is consistently scoring over 30 points a game.

    Erick Dampier Factor:  Making a major difference by freeing up Chris Bosh

    Analysis:  Amar'e Stoudemire is proving to be a monster in the post, but unfortunately for him, it's on a bad team.  Makes you wonder why the Heat didn't pursue him instead of Chris Bosh in the first place. 

    Every starter on the Heat has found his identity, and their offense and defense is starting to work in sync. 

    James and Wade will take turns lighting up the scoreboard in taking the Heat to yet another blowout win.

    Miami Wins.

Dec. 18 @ Washington Wizards: Projected WIN Brings Heat Record to 20-9

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss:  Win No. 20

    Winning/Losing Streak:  11-game winning streak

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  27th in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  Forecasted loss

    Don't Look Now But: Chris Bosh is consistently averaging a double-double.

    Eric Dampier Factor:   Fortifying the post.

    Analysis:  John Wall is proving to be a superstar in his rookie year, and the Heat have shown that they have problems with elite point guards. 

    Erick Dampier will play a major role in helping this team seek redemption from its first (forecasted) loss against the Wizards, as usual freeing up Chris Bosh.

    This should be an easy win for the Miami Heat, who have begun to steamroll over the competition in a manner that was initially expected in case you have not noticed.

    Miami Wins.

Dec. 20 Vs. Dallas Mavericks: Projected WIN Brings Heat Record to 21-9

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss:  Win No. 21

    Winning/Losing Streak:  12-game winning streak

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  Sixth in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  Forecasted loss

    Don't Look Now But: The Heat are consistently scoring over 100 points.

    Erick Dampier Factor:   Fortifying the post.

    Analysis:  The Dallas Mavericks bring yet another test to the Miami Heat, who have only faced a top-tier team three times in the last month (Mavericks, Jazz and Hornets).  The Heat suffered a (forecasted) loss to the Mavs on Dec. 6 and are ready to take some revenge.

    The Heat have reestablished themselves as a top-tier team, one that is to be feared. 

    This should be a close game, but the Miami Heat should come out on top.

    Miami Wins.

Dec. 23 @ Phoenix Suns: Projected WIN Brings Heat Record to 22-9

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss:  Win No. 22

    Winning/Losing Streak:  13-game winning streak

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  12th in the NBA

    Last Meeting with Enemy:  W 123-96

    Don't Look Now But: The Heat are consistently holding their opponents to less than 100 points.

    Erick Dampier Factor:  Fortifying the post.

    Analysis:  The Phoenix Suns are a run-and-gun team that can beat any team in the league when all their shots are falling.  Unfortunately, their defense is very poor and more often than not, they should lose to a good defensive team.

    The Heat have established themselves as a top defensive team in the league over the last month and should give the Suns lots of problems. 

    This should be another blowout win for the Miami Heat, who have begun to steamroll over the competition as their chemistry gets stronger and stronger.

    Miami Wins.

Christmas Showdown @ L.A. Lakers

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Projected Win/Loss:  Loss No. 10  (22-10)

    Winning/Losing Streak:  13-game winning streak comes to an end.

    Power Ranking the Enemy:  First in the NBA

    C Matchup:  Pau Gasol vs. Eric Dampier (Gasol wins) 

    PF Matchup:  Lamar Odom vs. Chris Bosh (Odom wins)

    SF Matchup:  Ron Artest vs. LeBron James (James wins) 

    SG Matchup:  Kobe Bryant vs. Dwyane Wade (Wade wins)

    PG Matchup:  Derick Fisher vs. Carlos Arroyo (Fisher wins)

    Bench:  Lakers Bench vs. Heat Bench (Lakers Bench wins)

    Miami Loses in Overtime.

12 Teams That Have an Edge on the Miami Heat's Depth Chart

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Miami Heat are seriously lacking in depth.  They need to get a real point guard, a top 10 center and bolster their bench.  The Heat remain only one or two injuries away from disaster.

    1.   Boston Celtics

    2.   Orlando Magic

    3.   Chicago Bulls

    4.   Atlanta Hawks

    5.   L.A. Lakers

    6.   Oklahoma City Thunder

    7.   New Orleans Hornets

    8.   Dallas Mavericks

    9.   San Antonio Spurs

    10. Portland Trail Blazers

    11. Denver Nuggets

    12. Utah Jazz

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