Two teams from the league’s biggest markets, LA and Miami will go head to head tonight at 8 p.m. Miami looks to remain the top dog in the East at 31-17 while LA will try and get to one game above .500 at 25-25. The Clippers are coming off two big-time wins, one of which was the second-largest comeback in NBA history of 35 points against Washington on Tuesday night.
There was no trap game as the next night they defeated the Orlando Magic 111-102. Miami is as red hot as they’ve been all year long, winning four of their last five contests with an average win margin of nine points. This is the second time these two teams have faced off this year. The first was a narrow 112-109 win for the Clippers on Nov. 11.
The lineups from that game will look quite different heading into today’s primetime matchup. The Heat have some usual suspects out of the lineup in the form of Victor Oladipo, KZ Okpala, and Markieff Morris. They will also be without Kyle Lowry and potentially Jimmy Butler who is listed as questionable. Obviously, the Clippers will be without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for not only this game but more than likely the entire season. Additionally, Marcus Morris is listed as out.
How Los Angeles Can Win:
South Beach Showdown.
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) January 28, 2022
It’s possible that the Clippers may have flipped a switch to keep the train going for a postseason spot. They looked dead in the water in the first half of Tuesday night’s game against the Wizards. However, they once again found that grit that they relied on to get to the 2021 WCF. This hard-nosed team culture they’ve established is in large part thanks to the coaching efforts of Ty Lue. In fact, the most intriguing matchup won’t be one that’s on the court rather one that’s found on the sidelines.
Lue and Spoelstra are both elite coaches in the NBA and masters of their own respective crafts. One player for the Clippers who’s stepped up in this recent stretch has been Amir Coffey. The rangy 6-foot-7 two-guard is averaging 15 ppg, 4rpg, and 3apg on 49/42/100 efficiency splits in his last 10 games. He’s also a solid on-ball defender so his defense on Butler (if he plays) will be crucial. A team stat category to watch especially for the Clippers is bench points. The Clippers must win the depth battle since Miami has better players at the top.
How Miami Can Win:
🗣 IT’S GAMEDAY
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 28, 2022
Some of the Heat’s outlook for this game depends on the status of Jimmy Butler who is nursing a left toe injury. However, the availability of their stars hasn’t been a factor as much as you might think. Miami holds the one seed in the East despite Butler, Lowry, and Adebayo missing over 50 games combined. The job Erik Spoelstra has done with this Heat team in the first half of the year is some of his finest work in his decorated coaching career.
They’ve seen guys like Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, and Caleb Martin fill in their roles to a tee. For this contest, without Lowry, expect Tyler Herro to carry a heavier load. He’s been one of the NBA’s best bench scorers and gets plenty of reps as the team’s primary ball-handler so he’s seasoned and ready for this role. A lot of two-game action will be run with Herro and Adebayo or even Duncan Robinson and Adebayo. It’s the Heat’s bread and butter to have their Adebayo at the center of the offense. He facilitates in ways we don’t see many big men do on the perimeter.
A key matchup will be Miami’s three-point shooting against the Clippers’ defense against the three. Miami shoots the second-highest team percentage at 37.7% while the Clippers allow their opponents to shoot 32.8% from three which ranks second in the NBA.
The Spread Via FanDuel:
Heat -7 (-300 ML)
Clippers +7 (+240 ML)
Final Prediction: Heat 115, Clippers 108