The Clippers continue on their six-game road trip without three starters tonight. Read on for a full Clippers vs Heat game preview.
Clippers vs Heat Game Information
When: 5:00 PM Pacific Time
Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
How To Watch: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, NBA League Pass
LA Clippers: Reggie Jackson – Luke Kennard – Terance Mann – Nicolas Batum – Serge Ibaka
Miami Heat: Kendrick Nunn – Duncan Robinson – KZ Okpala – Kelly Olynyk – Bam Adebayo
LA Clippers: Patrick Beverley – OUT (right knee soreness), Paul George – OUT (health and safety protocols), Kawhi Leonard – OUT (health and safety protocols), Jay Scrubb – OUT (foot surgery)
Miami Heat: Jimmy Butler – DAY-TO-DAY (conditioning), Tyler Herro – QUESTIONABLE (neck spasms), Goran Dragic – QUESTIONABLE (groin), Meyers Leonard – QUESTIONABLE (shoulder), Moe Harkless – QUESTIONABLE (thigh), Chris Silva – QUESTIONABLE (hip)
The Big Picture
I wouldn’t go so far as to call the Clippers’ 9-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday a “moral victory,” but I have to admit that my concern levels are pretty low. LA, for the most part, hung close against a playoff team at full strength despite being down three starters, and put themselves in a position where they could have stolen a win if they’d been a little luckier and gotten a good scoring game from Lou Williams or Marcus Morris.
But while that loss isn’t particularly meaningful, the short-term outlook continues to be grim so long as Beverley, George, and Leonard are out. Without sweating the Atlanta loss too much, the Clippers are poised for a real setback in the standings as they continue on this six-game road trip. It is what it is–results without multiple starters don’t mean much as a measure of the team’s overall quality or outlook, but these games will have an effect on the standings. Over the next three games against the Heat, Magic, and Knicks, you’d hope that the Clippers can find a way to merge the same kind of fight they exhibited on Tuesday with some better shot-making.
They’ll have a real chance against the Miami Heat tonight, especially with the Heat playing on the second night of a back-to-back and having quite the injury report of their own. Of course, it’s possible that a flurry of Miami players who missed last night’s game return tonight with fresh legs. Wouldn’t it be just the Clippers’ luck to play the Hawks right when Trae Young and Clint Capela get back, just to play the Heat right when several of their rotation guys get back the next game?
The Heat, fresh off of their NBA Finals appearance, have started the season… 6-11. Much like the current version of the Clippers, Miami’s early season struggles have a lot more to do with who is out of the lineup than who’s in it. Jimmy Butler has only played 6 games so far this season. Meyers Leonard has only made 3 appearances. Moe Harkless has only played 9 times. Tyler Herro has missed 7 games. And now Goran Dragic is missing time with a groin injury as well. It’s hard to scout the Heat without knowing what version of the Heat the Clippers will go up against. If the aforementioned crew remains sidelined, the Clippers should actually be favored tonight. If some guys return–Butler’s probably unlikely to play, but Herro and Dragic could–the Clippers could have a more difficult time with Miami’s firepower.
Either way, the best player on the court tonight will be Bam Adebayo. The 23-year-old big man broke out last year in his third NBA season, making his first All-Star team, and he’s putting up even better numbers this year: 20.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game while shooting 60.7% from the field. Defensively, he’s mobile enough to switch onto the perimeter, strong enough to defend in the post, and a great help-side rim protector. Offensively, he’s crafty in the lane, explosive at the rim, and precise as a distributor. Just this week, he put up a game-high 41 points against the Brooklyn Nets and nearly lifted the shorthanded Heat to victory over the trio of Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant.
The Clippers are going to struggle with Adebayo–Ibaka in particular. Bam is the right kind of two-way threat who shouldn’t have much trouble shutting down Serge on one end and scoring on him at will at the other. With Ivica Zubac surging in recent games and better equipped to defend Adebayo at the rim and control the defensive glass, I’d hope to see a little more of him tonight. But Bam is also lethal in the mid-range, hitting 59% from 10-16 feet this season, so Zu’s slow-footed drop coverage could leave openings there. But if the other Heat remain sidelined, the Clippers might be able to survive a big night from Bam–Miami’s only other real firepower to speak of comes from Kendrick Nunn, whose contributions come with questionable efficiency and decision-making, and Duncan Robinson, who is perhaps the NBA’s best sharpshooter who thrives most when playing off of others but doesn’t create much on his own.
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