Ever since LeBron James announced that he would be "taking his talents to South Beach" back in July, the annual Christmas Day Lakers versus Heat match-up has been all the more intriguing.
All those Nike commercials from last year, where LeBron would bench "2010" in the gym in front of an amused, cartoon-sized Kobe Bryant will somewhat tell the tale of what will play out for the Heat this year.
The Heat have a 1-8 record against teams with winning records, even though they have won 12 of their past 13 games. The 2006 Heat were the same way, but like Kobe said in an interview with ESPN's Michael Wilbon, it doesn't matter.
Well it does, for the team that wins. If the Heat hope to match up against the strong Western conference in a possible Finals preview, this Christmas Day game will be a measuring stick. Bryant is fresh off a frustrating loss against the Milwaukee Bucks, in which he was ejected late in the fourth quarter.
If the Heat look to stand a chance, on the road, against a very good Lakers team, their defense will have to frustrate Bryant. The three-headed monster at center of Erik Dampier, big Z and Joel Anthony will also have to slow down Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
It is just a game, but one of epic proportions for the NBA landscape.