Forget the Celtics, Mavericks, and Spurs. Between the Miami Heat (18-8) and Los Angeles Lakers (18-7), which team will get to 30 wins first?
The Heat are sizzling with a current nine-game winning streak while the Lakers have won five of six and now return center Andrew Bynum.
Will he be enough to lift the defending champions past the thriving Heat?
Let's break it down, game by game.
Cavaliers at Heat: Cleveland's lack of talent is too much to overcome in this uphill battle in Miami.
Heat win and move to 19-8
Lakers at Pacers: This won't be as easy as many anticipate. The Pacers have been a surprise team this year with their motion offense that relies heavily on constant screens, both on and off the ball.
Lakers win and move to 19-7
Heat at Knicks: The Knicks have gotten a lot better but are no match for the Heat.
Heat win and move to 20-8
Lakers at Sixers: Kobe goes off as Philadelphia just doesn't have the firepower.
Lakers win and move to 20-7
Heat at Wizards: A John Wall matchup with the Heat's three monsters will be exciting...for Miami fans.
Heat win and move to 21-8
Lakers off: 20-7
Lakers at Raptors: Toronto couldn't beat this team without Kobe Bryant.
Lakers win and move to 21-7 (five-game win streak).
Heat off: 21-8
Mavericks at Heat: Miami knows it won't be taken seriously until it beats the Spurs, Mavericks, Celtics, or Lakers. This is a statement game on its home turf.
Heat win and move to 22-8 (13-game win streak)
Lakers off: 21-7
Bucks at Lakers: The Bucks are such a hot and cold team, they're very difficult to project. By now Bynum will either have made this team lethal or injured himself again.
Lakers win and move to 22-7 (Six-game win streak)
Miami off: 22-8
Heat at Suns: Phoenix matched up horribly with Miami as witnessed in their last matchup. Unless Steve Nash goes off for 40, this will have the same result.
Heat win and move to 23-8 (14-game win streak)
Lakers off: 22-7
Heat at Lakers: Christmas is here and so is the much anticipated Heat-Lakers matchup at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. No doubt this one will have a playoff feel.
It's the first time the new-look Heat faces the defending champs. L.A. needs this win more than Miami.
Lakers win and move to 23-7 (Seven-game win streak)
Heat move to 23-9 and their streak ends at 14.
Knicks at Heat: Miami plays well against the small-ball teams and will beat the Knicks for the second time in days.
Heat win and move to 24-9
Lakers at Spurs: The Spurs are the best team in basketball right now. Can their aging team keep it up?
Lakers lose and move to 23-8
Heat at Rockets: The odds are Yao won't be playing in this matchup. The guy is made of glass.
Heat win and move to 25-9
Lakers at Hornets: CP3 versus Kobe is always a fun matchup. Too bad David West won't be able to get anything inside in this one.
Lakers win and move to 24-8
Warriors at Heat: Even with Stephen Curry, the Warriors have no way of limiting LeBron or Wade. This will be exciting but will end badly for Golden State.
Heat win and move to 26-9
Lakers off: 24-8
Do you have to have a psych evaluation to become a Lakers girl?
Grizzlies at Lakers: The Gasol brothers square off in what will be a battle. Memphis has the talent to win it but will come up short.
Lakers win and move to 25-8
Heat off: 26-9
Heat at Bobcats: Both Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson would be excellent third options on a contender, but with those two as your best players, it's weak. And then you consider who the Bobcats have after them and this team is very unlikely to make the playoffs.
Heat win and move to 27-9
Lakers off: 25-8
Bucks at Heat: Miami wins this one before traveling to Milwaukee two days later.
Miami wins and moves to 28-9
Pistons at Lakers: Detroit is in the worst shape of any team in basketball. Not only are they bad, but they have terrible contracts and older players.
Lakers win and moves to 26-8
Lakers at Suns: There is a small chance Nash is out of Phoenix by this time. Still, the Suns are no match for the Lakers, which should be hitting their stride now.
Lakers win and move to 27-8
Heat off: 28-9
Heat at Bucks: It's tough to beat a team back-to-back, especially with the second game on the loser's home floor. But with the Heat rolling, a less-than-stellar Bucks squad won't prevail.
Heat win and move to 29-9
Hornets at Lakers: Chris Paul is good enough to lead the overmatched Hornets to a win against this team at one point.
Lakers lose and move to 27-9
Heat at Blazers: If only they had Greg Oden alive. He would have made this team a contender. But no Oden means no prayer for the Blazers.
Heat win and reach 30!
Lakers at Knicks: Lakers win and reach 28-9. Looking ahead, they would probably win their next two games with Cleveland and Golden State, putting them at 30-9 as well.
Both the Heat and Lakers will win 30 of their first 39 games in the 2010-11 NBA season.
Ties do suck, but regardless of what anyone says, they're still better than kissing your sister. That is unless it's a stepsister, and she's really hot.
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