On Wednesday afternoon, the Lakers (13-15) will play host to the defending NBA champion Miami Heat (21-6) at Staples Center.
The Lakers have struggled over the course of the last few weeks, playing without a legitimate point guard because of injuries to Steve Blake (elbow), Steve Nash (back), Jordan Farmar (hamstring) and Kobe Bryant (knee), shooting guard turned point man.
Farmar will make his return on Christmas Day after sitting out since Dec. 1.
With a real point running Coach Mike D'Antoni's offense, the Lakers should be a lot more productive.
Of course, playing an elite team like the Heat won't exactly be easy, especially with Bryant out for six weeks.
LeBron James is a load to deal with for any team. The Lakers will challenge him with Wesley Johnson and Shawne Williams -- and anyone else D'Antoni can throw at the league's reigning most valuable player.
James is averaging 25.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.6 assists a game. He's also shooting 59.9% from the field, 41.7% from three-point range and 77% from the free-throw line.
At 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds, James is about 35 pounds heavier than Johnson. He's also faster than the 230-pound Williams.
James' combination of strength, speed and skill is unparalleled in the NBA.
Meanwhile, Johnson and Williams are role players for the Lakers. James isn't going to have to do too much on offense against his man, unless Erik Spoelstra chooses to put his All-Star forward on Lakers high-scoring guard Nick Young.
Farmar was playing his best ball of the season before tearing his hamstring.
Farmar had averaged 9.2 points and 4.4 assists while shooting 43.8% from the field and 39.3% from three-point range this season.
D'Antoni said he might play Farmar in five-minute bursts to make sure the veteran guard doesn't struggle with conditioning since he's been off for more than three weeks.
The Lakers have struggled recently to run very basic pick-and-roll sets. Cutters would dive to the basket without a point guard to deliver the pass.
Now players can return to their normal positions, without playing heavy minutes outside of their comfort zone.
The Heat have another All-Star guard with which the Lakers have to deal in Dwyane Wade, who is averaging 19.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists. He's shooting well from the field (54.1%) but isn't a tremendous three-point threat at 30.8%.
The Lakers will pull out of their mini-tailspin, now that they have at least one point guard back. It just might not happen on Christmas Day against a team the caliber of the Heat.
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