Preview of the Miami Heat’s matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Heat (22-16) @ Clippers (25-13)
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
When: Wednesday, January 13, 9:30 PM EST
Watch: ESPN, FS-SUN, NBA League Pass
The Los Angeles Clippers were on a three-game losing streak and sitting at a mediocre 16-13 heading into their Christmas Day matchup. The team went on to win that 94-84 over their in-arena rivals. They’ve gone to win their next eight games as well, and all eight of those wins without the services All-Star power forward Blake Griffin.
Despite being 12 games over .500 and on pace for 54 wins, the Clippers are in fourth place in a top-heavy Western Conference and trail the team that took Miami down on Monday, the Golden State Warriors, by 11-games for the top seed.
On the other hand, the Miami Heat come into this game fresh off a disappointing, yet encouraging loss against the Golden State Warriors on Monday night. Despite being without their starting center Hassan Whiteside and Dwyane Wade shooting 6-for-20 from the field, the Heat were able to battle with the Warriors all game, with the Warriors pulling away late for the victory.
Justise Winslow started the game in place of Whiteside and could be in line to do the same against the Clippers on Wednesday, if Whiteside is not able to go.
Matchup to Watch: Hassan Whiteside vs DeAndre Jordan
Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks desperately wanted DeAndre Jordan this past off-season after seeing what he could do when he was the focal point of the offense, with Blake Griffin out with an injury. The potentially bigger role was the lure for Jordan to take his talents to Dallas, before a change of heart kept him with Chris Paul and the Clippers.
Over the past eight games with Griffin out with another injury, Jordan is averaging 14 points, 14.5 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game on 75 percent shooting.
Jordan is dealing with flu-like symptoms, but is expected to play on Wednesday against the Heat.
Also questionable for the game is Hassan Whiteside, who is dealing with a knee injury. Whiteside missed the Monday matchup against the Golden State Warriors.
Whiteside has struggled since injuring his knee against the Dallas Mavericks on the first of the new year. In that game he scored 25 points and grabbed 19 rebounds on 12-16 shooting. Since that game, Whiteside has struggled, missing two games and averaging 7.3 points and 10.3 rebounds on 39 percent shooting from the field.
The Miami Heat will need Whiteside to play and play well on Wednesday night if they want to have a chance to clip the Clippers 9-game winning streak.
X-Factor: Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade
Despite Mario Chalmers being a Memphis Grizzly and not being on the Heat roster for two months, unwarranted complaints from Miami Heat fans about their point guard play have not gone away. Goran Dragic has become the successor to Chalmers on potentially being the most hated Heat player on the roster.
While Dragic did get off to a slow start to the season, he has been spectacular in the new year for the Heat. In seven January games, Dragic is averaging 15.3 points, on 53 percent shooting from the field, and 52.1 percent shooting from three.
Dragic has a 20.1 USG so far this season, the same as sixth man Gerald Green and 10 percent lower than Dwyane Wade’s 30.3 USG rate. Dragic has actually played better than Wade of late, but Wade still dominates the ball and has slowed the Heat offense down.
The Heat, if they want to have a strong, consistent offense, need to let Dragic run the offense more and get Wade to play off the ball, much like he did when LeBron James was in a Heat uniform. Wade averaged a 27.75 USG rating in his four years with LeBron, with that number decreasing each year.
One way to fix this issue would be to use Wade as a sixth man and start Tyler Johnson in his stead. Wade would running with a second unit of Gerald Green, Justise Winslow, a healthy Josh McRoberts, and either Bosh or Whiteside rotating between the first five and second unit would provide the Heat with a lot better spacing and potentially offense on both fronts.
Miami Heat offensive efficiency: 11th, 102.9 points per 100 possessions
Miami Heat defensive efficiency: T-6th, 99.4 points per 100 possessions
Los Angeles Clippers offensive efficiency: 5th, 105.6 points allowed per 100 possessions
Los Angeles Clippers defensive efficiency: 10th, 100.9 points allowed per 100 possessions