It’s difficult to move forward and limit the time spent taking in the two most recent improbable victories for the Clippers, but with an opportunity to win three games in a row for the first time since early December, it’s safe to say that this upcoming matchup against the Heat might be a bigger test than the last two wins combined.
After all, the Heat’s record is dramatically different than those of the Wizards and Magic, who the Clippers beat on the road this past week. The intimidating duo of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo guarantees a gritty game — they’ve helped the Heat secure the number four offense and number seven defense in the league, the latter of which happens to be right behind the Clippers in those same rankings.
However, the Heat are surely having a similar conversation when planning for the matchup. Despite the Clippers’ shortcomings on paper (missing Paul George and Kawhi Leonard), no one can ignore the heroics of coming back from double-digits twice in back-to-back games. Both wins were a product of a complete team effort, making it even more difficult for opponents to decide who to assign their best defender.
Luke Kennard would be an obvious choice for defensive attention, but Amir Coffey has also been shooting nearly 42 percent from distance through the past 10 games. However, Coffey can also quickly turn into a playmaker, and dish it off to other shooters like Nicolas Batum and Terance Mann, both of whom are shooting right around 40 percent from three. And this is just the offense — the Clippers, with the number six defensive rating, have proven time and time again that they can shut a team down and light them up once they switch into comeback mode.
When: Friday, January 28 at 4 p.m. PT
Where: FTX Arena, Miami, FL
How to watch/listen: Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570 ESPN
Opposing perspective: Hot Hot Hoops
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Amir Coffey, Terance Mann, Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac
Heat: Gabe Vincent, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, PJ Tucker, Bam Adebayo
Clippers: Paul George, Keon Johnson, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris Sr., Jason Preston — OUT
Heat: Jimmy Butler — QUESTIONABLE; Kyle Lowry, Markieff Morris, KZ Okpala, Victor Oladipo — OUT
Needless to say, the Clippers have plenty of weapons to employ when needed, but they can’t take the Heat for granted. Compared to the Wizards and Magic, the Heat are a much more formidable opponent who might be more apt to prevent a lead from being sacrificed. But if the past week has shown us anything, it’s that the Clippers won’t stop proving us wrong.