How L.A. Lakers Stack Up with Miami Heat at Every Position

Peter Emerick@@peteremerickSenior Writer IIAugust 23, 2012

How L.A. Lakers Stack Up with Miami Heat at Every Position

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    The Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat are heavily considered the top two championship contenders in the NBA heading into the 2012-13 season.

    Since the Heat's signing of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis and the Lakers' acquisition of Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison, the star power on each roster is through the roof.

    While both teams only face off against each other twice during the regular season, a Heat-versus-Lakers matchup could very well be a preview of the 2013 NBA Finals.

    Ahead is a breakdown of how the Lakers and Heat size up against each other at every position. 

Sixth Man: Ray Allen vs. Antawn Jamison

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    The bench production in this potential matchup will be absolutely pivotal in the matchups between the L.A. Lakers and the Miami Heat.

    Ray Allen and Antawn Jamison have a lot of responsibility, even though they aren't in the starting lineups. Allen and Jamison have the role of leading their team's second units and ensuring that production doesn't decline when the starters get a rest.

    Both players are truly special and have had long and successful careers in the NBA. While Allen is the best three-point shooter in the league, there is no doubt that Jamison brings more to the court on both sides of the ball for the Lakers.

    Jamison, who averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds last season, will bring a level of structure to the Lakers bench that the Heat bench doesn't have. His maturity and veteran experience will also help the Lakers compete against a Heat team that knows how to win.

    Allen's three-point shooting is special, but with his increasing age (now 37) and questions surrounding his ongoing, nagging injuries, Allen could be a more of a liability than a hero for the Heat coming off the bench.

    Advantage: L.A. Lakers

Point Guard: Mario Chalmers vs. Steve Nash

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    Mario Chalmers turned on the jets last season during the Heat's playoff run, including their dominant performance in the 2012 NBA Finals.

    While Chalmers was a big part of their title run—25 points on 60 percent shooting in Game 4 of the finals—he's not yet on the same level as his counterpart in this matchup, Steve Nash.

    Nash is a competent scorer, and he's also one of the game's premier facilitators. While Chalmers brings a lot on defense, he won't be able to compete with Nash's experience and basketball I.Q. on both sides of the ball.

    The Lakers need Nash to dominate this matchup because they need him to control their offense. Instead of letting Kobe try and beat the Heat, the Lakers need Nash to move the ball around and help the Lakers beat the Heat as one cohesive unit.

    Chalmers will put up a fight, but when it comes to controlling the pace of the game and creating offensive opportunities for teammates, there is no better player in the league than Nash.

    Advantage: L.A. Lakers

Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade vs. Kobe Bryant

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    Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant have been compared to each other ever since they first faced off against each other in the NBA.

    While they are both similar players, they each have a facet of the game that makes them stand out. Kobe has his deadly stroke from nearly anywhere on the court, whereas Wade has his uncanny ability to slash into the paint past nearly any defender.

    Based on the needs of their respective teams, the slight advantage has to go to Wade here, mainly because he creates more opportunities for his teammates than Kobe does for his.

    Sure, Kobe is at times the most lethal offensive player in the NBA, but the amount of shots he often has to take to reach that level holds his team back in the end.

    Wade is also more explosive in transition, and that is pivotal to the Heat's success, because that's how they overpower teams.

    Without transition offense, the Heat won't be able to gain a decisive advantage over the L.A. Lakers, and that is exactly why Wade is more important to his team's success than Kobe is.

    Advantage: Miami Heat

Small Forward: Shane Battier vs. Metta World Peace

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    Shane Battier and Metta World Peace are very similar and yet very different players at the same time.

    They both bring an impressive level of intensity to the defensive side of the ball, and they are opportunistic players on offense.

    The major difference between both players is their respective levels of maturity. Battier is hands-down the more mature and smarter player. While World Peace might be a bit more productive on the offensive side of the ball, Battier's maturity makes him the better player.

    The Heat need a player on the wing who will be able to bring help-side defense on Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, and that's exactly what Battier brings to the court.

    With World Peace, you never know what kind of player you'll be getting, and that risk severely lessens his value.

    As we saw in the 2012 NBA Finals, Battier is capable of doing whatever his team needs him to do to win, and that's what gives the Heat the advantage here.

    Advantage: Miami Heat

Power Forward: LeBron James vs. Pau Gasol

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    LeBron James against Pau Gasol is a very odd matchup because it meets two very different styles of play.

    With the Lakers' talent and the Heat's lack of a true center, there is no other option than to put LeBron at the power forward position, much like they did at times in last year's playoffs.

    LeBron has already proven that he's capable of putting Gasol on lock-down on the defensive side of the ball, and that's exactly what he will do. His physicality is second to none, and he will be able to limit Gasol's touches while also bringing help-side defensive on players like Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.

    On the offensive side of the ball, Metta World Peace will most likely be guarding LeBron, but that won't matter because there aren't any players in the NBA who can shut LeBron down.

    The three-time NBA MVP will dominate Gasol on both sides of the ball, making this spot a clear advantage for the Miami Heat. 

    Advantage: Miami Heat

Center: Chris Bosh vs. Dwight Howard

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    By default, the Miami Heat have no better option than putting Chris Bosh at the center position to compete with Dwight Howard.

    While Bosh will be able to put up a fight against Howard, there is absolutely no way that he will be able to overpower or dominate him. Howard's size and strength will be too much to handle.

    Bosh will try to counter Howard's strength by taking him out to the perimeter. There, Howard's size works somewhat to his disadvantage.

    The 30-pound advantage that Howard has on Bosh will be too much to handle in the paint, especially on the glass, and that's something that will seriously hurt the Heat in this matchup. 

    At least having Bosh at the center position will force Howard to stay true to his defensive assignment, because if the Heat put Joel Anthony in there, Howard will be able to float a bit more, which will disrupt the Heat's offensive flow.

    Advantage: L.A. Lakers