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Clippers-Heat preview: Let's turn the corner

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The Clippers might -- might I say -- be on the verge of getting themselves right, after a nice win over Dallas yesterday. Another nice win over the Heat would help solidify the turnaround.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
2014/2015 NBA Regular Season
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25-12

15-21
January 11th, 2015, 12:30 PM
STAPLES Center
Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown
11-6 East 11-12
14-6 West 4-9
17-5 Home 7-12
8-7 Road 8-9
8-10 .500+ 5-14
17-2 .500- 10-7
6-4 L10 3-7
Probable Starters
Chris Paul PG Mario Chalmers
J.J. Redick SG Dwyane Wade
Matt Barnes SF Luol Deng
Blake Griffin PF Chris Bosh
DeAndre Jordan C Chris Andersen
Advanced Stats
96.50 (13th of 30) Pace 91.62 (30th of 30)
110.4 (3rd of 30) ORtg 102.8 (17th of 30)
103.2 (16th of 30) DRtg 106.7 (26th of 30)
Injuries/Other
None
Josh McRoberts (knee) out for season

The Back Story (The Clippers lead the season series 1-0):

Date Venue Final

11/20/14 Miami Clippers 110, Heat 93 Recap Box

The Big Picture:

The Clippers got a quality win over a quality team yesterday, handling the Dallas Mavericks easily in a Saturday matinee. They have a Sunday show now against the Miami Heat, and need to keep the good times rolling. As it happens, when the Clippers played the Heat back in November, it was the day after a solid win and when they beat the Heat it felt like the start of a turnaround for the team -- which it was, and wasn't. The Clippers went on a nine game winning streak that included that win in Miami, but they returned to playing uninspired ball almost as quickly. We'll see if a win in this won really does see the team turning the corner to becoming the contender they were supposed to be this time. Blake Griffin was on fire with his jump shot against Miami, and has made 20 field goals in 28 attempts in his last two games.

The Antagonist:

The Heat are a completely different team without LeBron James, which isn't exactly breaking news. They're still in a playoff position in the watered down East, but just barely in the eight spot, and six games below .500. It doesn't help that the two remaining amigos, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, have missed eight games apiece this season, nor that Mario Chalmers is the only Miami player to have appeared in every game. But when Justin Hamilton is starting five games for the team that went to four straight NBA Finals, you know something pretty significant has changed. Wade and Bosh are putting up impressive raw numbers without LeBron -- but the team defense has been atrocious, and the Big Two aren't getting a lot of help.

The Subplots

  • Comparison of key metrics. Last season these were the top two offensive teams in the league. The Clippers have been even better so far (though they are currently ranked third) but the Heat have fallen off a cliff without LeBron James. The big problem however is on defense, where the Heat have gone from 11th last season to 26th.
  • Back-to-back matinees. The Clippers play a lot of matinees and they play a lot of back-to-backs. They don't however combine the two very frequently. They had plenty of energy in their 12:30 tip against the Mavs yesterday, which isn't always the case in afternoon games -- hopefully they can repeat the performance today. The good news is that the Clippers have been nothing short of incredible in back-to-backs this season, winning six times and losing just twice.
  • The end of the homestand. This game concludes a nine-game homestand for the Clippers, the longest in franchise history and the longest of any NBA team this season. A win would give the Clippers a 7-2 record in the nine games -- losses to Toronto and Atlanta certainly weren't pretty, but 7-2 is not half bad.
  • Good news, bad news. The good news is that the Clippers have been great against teams with losing records (17-2) while the Heat have struggled against winning teams (5-14) and against the West (4-9). The bad news is that the Clippers are actually one of the few teams in the league that is playing worse against the East this season.
  • J.J. Redick. Redick is shooting so well right now -- and getting such good looks -- that I'm honestly shocked when he misses. Midway through the second quarter of the Dallas game I thought Redick was having a bad game, only to look up to see that he had 11 points. Redick is hitting .422 of his three pointers this season, a career best.
  • Bosh. Chris Bosh, out of the shadow of James and with Wade clearly on the decline, has increased his per game scoring from 16.2 points per game last season to 21.2 points per game this season. That's still below where he was when he was in Toronto, but the guy clearly subjugated his game while he was part of the big three. Of course, he's getting more shots and has been less efficient, but he's still got a true shooting percentage of .568, aided by a much-improved three point shot that he's making at a 40% clip so far this season while shooting it more than ever. Defending Bosh will be a big challenge for Griffin.
  • Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside was a second round pick of Sacramento in 2010. He's an impossibly long project center out of Marshall, perhaps a bit like the Clippers own impossibly long project center they picked up in the second round. Whiteside played just 111 minutes total over two seasons with the Kings, and then was out of the league for two years playing in the D-League, China and Lebanon. The Heat picked him up last month -- and he's been great for them, with per 36 averages of 14 points, 13 rebounds and almost five blocks. He's not as athletic as Jordan, but he may have developed a bit more of an offensive game as this point. It will be interesting to watch if they face each other for significant minutes today.
  • Clippers-Heat rivalry. Until the Heat swept them last season (thanks in part to a Chris Paul-less game at STAPLES in February) the Clippers and Heat had been splitting games for six straight seasons. Now it's the Clippers' chance to pull off the sweep -- something they have not done to Miami since the 2006-2007 season.
  • Connections. Danny Granger played with the Clippers after the trade deadline last season and into the playoffs before signing with the Heat this summer. Heat assistant coach Bob McAdoo is the only league MVP in Clippers franchise history, having won the honor in 1975 with the Buffalo Braves before the team moved west. There's a strong Duke presence in this game, with J.J. Redick of the Clippers and Luol Deng and the injured Josh McRoberts on the Heat. Deng and Redick were teammates during Deng's only season in Durham and McRoberts was Redick's teammate two seasons after that.
  • Get the Heat perspective at Hot Hot Hoops
  • Wikipedia entry: Pungency /ˈpʌn(d)ʒənsi/ is the condition of having a strong, sharp smell or taste that is often so strong that it is unpleasant. Pungency is the technical term used by scientists to refer to the characteristic of food commonly referred to as spiciness or hotness and sometimes heat, which is found in foods such as chili peppers.

    The term piquancy /ˈpkənsi/ is sometimes applied to foods with a lower degree of pungency that are "agreeably stimulating to the palate." Examples of piquant food include mustard and some strongly flavored tomatoes, as well as most foods that might be called "well-spiced."

    Pungency is associated with the sense of taste, and in various Asian countries it has traditionally been considered a basic taste