Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
When: 5:00 PM PT
How to Watch/Listen: ESPN, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Terance Mann– Landry Shamet – Kawhi Leonard – Patrick Patterson – Ivica Zubac
Heat: Kendrick Nunn – Duncan Robinson – Jimmy Butler – Bam Adebayo – Meyers Leonard
Clippers: Paul George Out (Hamstring), Pat Beverley Questionable (Groin)
Heat: Goran Dragic Questionable (Calf), Jimmy Butler Questionable (Knee), Justise Winslow Out (Back), Kendrick Nunn Questionable (Achilles)
The Big Picture
After riding the high of a four-game winning streak, the Clippers crashed down to earth in a dreadful loss to the Hawks on Wednesday night. Up big in the first half against a Hawks team without its All Star Trae Young, the Clips collapsed in the back half, losing all movement offensively and proving unable to get a stop or a rebound on the other end. While the Clippers were without their two best players as well as missing the beating heart of their team in Pat Beverley, losing to that Hawks team under those circumstances still felt rather embarrassing. The Clippers have mostly been able to bounce back from their woes quickly this season, and that could happen as soon as tonight with Kawhi Leonard back in the lineup.
The Heat are one of the best stories in the NBA this season. Projected to be a lower-tier playoff team in the lesser Eastern Conference, the Heat have instead excelled with a 31-13 record, tying them for second in the entire NBA. Jimmy Butler has been everything the Heat could have hoped he would be, carrying the Heat in clutch situations while playing fantastic defense and setting the tone for the team without grating too badly on teammates. Numerous young players have broken out, including rookies Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn, and second-year man Duncan Robinson. Butler’s star power has also been augmented by the rise of Bam Adebayo, who should make his first All-Star Game this season as one of the better and more versatile big men in the NBA. The Heat are deep, and good, and should be an extremely formidable opponent for the Clippers at home, where they are 20-1.
Patterson Starting?: I had Patrick Patterson as the tentative starter above because the Heat start two bigs, and Doc Rivers has usually gone to Patterson in such situations over Moe Harkless. Patterson’s play has dropped off a little of late, so it’s possible Doc sticks with Harkless, or even goes with an alternate candidate like JaMychal Green or Montrezl Harrell. Still, I’d expect Patterson to get the nod tonight.
Pat Beverley is Key: The Clippers record without Patrick Beverley in the lineup over the past two seasons is very bad. Pat is a good defender and sets the tone for the Clippers on the court, but he’s also a skilled baskeball player who brings a lot to the table while taking very little off it. An excellent rebounder with a solid outside shot and a low turnover rate, Beverley does everything the Clippers need outside of scoring in bunches, and the Clippers look significantly less cohesive on both ends when he’s not out there. Hopefully his groin injury isn’t too bad, because he is greatly missed.