The Los Angeles Clippers (5-3) entered last weekend as the NBA's last undefeated team, but have lost three out of four games since then. They wrap up a five-game stretch at home as they host the Miami Heat (3-5) Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.
When: Sunday, November 5, 2017 — 12:30 p.m. (PDT)
Where: STAPLES Center; Los Angeles, CA
Radio: AM 570 L.A. Sports
TV: Fox Sports Prime Ticket
Los Angeles: Patrick Beverley, Austin Rivers, Danilo Gallinari, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
Miami: Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, Okaro White, Hassan Whiteside
Los Angeles: Milos Teodosic (Out, left foot)
Miami: Rodney McGruder (Out, left tibia)
THE BIG PICTURE
The Clippers and the Heat meet Sunday for the first of two match-ups this regular season. Los Angeles swept the series last season, 2-0, and have won the last four contests between the two franchises.
The Clippers are coming off a disappointing 113-104 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, where they struggled on both ends of the floor. Offensively, the Clippers’ luck with 3-point shooting came to a streaking halt; they finished a dismal 4-of-26 from beyond the arc. Ball movement was non-existent, there was no transition offense, and overall, play was predictable, slow and sloppy. The Clippers racked up 13 turnovers, which the Grizzlies converted into 17 points.
Defensively, the Clippers could not get stops consistently and struggled to contain Mike Conley (22 points) and Tyreke Evans (20 points). Multiple players hit double figures for Memphis, and their bench outscored the Clippers reserves 55-22.
The Grizzlies game was anticipated to provide some valuable insight as to where the Clippers ranked the West. The two teams are similarly stacked with talent; somewhere between the Dallas Mavericks and the Golden State Warriors. However, the real lesson learned from the match-up, and from the past week generally, is that the Clippers need to make some major adjustments – both offensively and defensively - if they want to truly be competitive this season.
On a more positive note, Blake Griffin has continued his MVP-worthy level of play. He scored a season high 30 points against the Grizzlies and is averaging 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game this season. DeAndre Jordan has also been stellar; he leads the league in rebounding (14.6).
The Heat have lost four out of their last five games and are 0-3 against Western Conference opponents. They have lost to the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves (in overtime).
Turnovers are a major issue for Miami; they have recorded at least 19 turnovers in four games already this season. The inability to maintain and build on a lead has also been problematic. Star center Hassan Whiteside, who missed five games with a bone bruise in his left knee, is back on the court, but playing limited minutes as the team attempts to ease him back into the mix. The Heat struggle without him. Guard Goran Dragic has been extremely efficient scoring, and is averaging a career high 20.3 points per game on 49.6 percent shooting from the field. Dion Waiters (15.9), James Johnson (12.4), Kelly Olynyk (11.4) and Josh Richardson (10 points) are also averaging double figures.
As the old adage goes “Defense wins games.” The Heat, although not an elite team, will present a balanced offensive attack against the Clippers. To pull out a win, the Clippers need to shore up their defense. A stronger, and more consistent defensive effort will lead to more transition opportunities and a less stagnant offense, both of which are essential for the Clippers’ success.