Return of 4 key Clippers means little as Miami goes on a shooting rampage.
Well, that couldn't have gone much worse. The Clippers stayed competitive for about a quarter, and Miami proceeded to blow the game out beyond recognition. Even when the team cut the lead down to 10 in the third, it never really felt like they were in the game. And once it was cut to 10, Miami very swiftly put the game away in a matter of minutes. It was nice seeing some familiar faces back on the court, notably a player like Chauncey Billups who has been gone practically the entire year and, even in this trainwreck of a game, flashed some of his exceptional bball IQ. For some reason Grant Hill didn't play at all, but I'm not sure it would've made much of a difference.
The script wrote itself all night. Miami has impeccable spacing to accompany their exceptional shooters and they faced an unfamiliar Clipper team that already has big problems guarding the three. Miami got countless good looks from downtown and, even without a legendary shooter like Ray Allen, they are loaded with capable players from beyond the arc. The Heat went a blistering 15-27 from downtown tonight, deciding the game pretty early one with their shooting. Shane Battier, LeBron James, and Mario Chalmers all hit 4 or more threes individually. The team hit their average of 8 threes per game before the end of the first half. When you space the floor like their shooters do and have savvy ballhandlers like James and Dwyane Wade making decisions off high screen and rolls, everything else seems elementary. James is on some kind of roll right now, he scored 30 points today on 9-11 shooting. He chipped in with his usual overall statline, but his shooting over the past 4 games has been absolutely unreal. He is very easily the best player in basketball right now. I really don't think it's very close between him and the field.
Did much go right for the Clippers tonight? Not much, really. Blake Griffin had some really nice post moves early on in the game, including consecutive possessions where he finished with a left hook and then a right hook. DeAndre Jordan was aggressive early and looked to be into the game for about half of the night, but it didn't translate to too much. Both those players shot quite well tonight at least, as they should have considering Miami didn't have any notable big men playing with Chris Bosh out of the lineup. Chris Paul's most notable contribution in his first game back was picking up a technical foul after being run over by James on a leakout pass. Paul had some nice dribbling moves but he couldn't connect on anything after hitting a very early three to start the game. For the most part, the Clippers weren't shooting too terribly for most of the game, and the team scored 50 points in the first half. The defense was just so lazy and the passing/spacing was so sharp on the Miami side that this game got out of hand in a hurry.
So yeah, quite a mess of a game. That's to be expected a bit with all these players coming back at the same time, but a loss this convincing should never be excused so easily. Let's hope Vinny lights a fire into these guys before the Knick game. Let's also hope he has an idea about his rotations now that he has a full cast of characters on his hands.
For the Heat perspective, check out Hot Hot Hoops.