The Miami Heat (3-5) still can’t quite get their season on track. They suffered an agonizing 95-94 loss to the Denver Nuggets, their fourth loss in their last five games. Goran Dragic had a strong game with 23 points and seven assists. However, Hassan Whiteside was subdued in his second game back as he had just 13 points and three rebounds.
The Los Angeles Clippers (5-3) are similarly in a bit of a rut. They dropped their third game in four with a 113-104 defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies. Blake Griffin had another great game with 30 points and 11 rebounds, while Patrick Beverley put up 23 points and seven rebounds. However, their defense was just unable to keep the Grizzlies at bay.
Three keys to the game
Point guard battle – Dragic (20 points on 50 percent shooting) has been consistently solid for the Heat this season, but they need a little bit more from their star point guard to get over the hump and start winning more regularly. However, he’ll have a tough matchup against the pest known as Patrick Beverley.
Gallo needs to get going – Danilo Gallinari has been quite a disappointment for the Clippers thus far. The big-money acquisition is averaging just 13.6 points on 35 percent shooting. The Clippers could use a lot more production from him to snap out of their current slump.
Bench help – James Johnson has been fine off the bench for Miami, but the likes of Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Johnson have been more hit or miss. Those reserves could turn out to be key for the Heat, especially if they outplay a Clippers bench that is also lacking consistent production outside of Lou Williams.
Matchup to watch
Hassan Whiteside vs DeAndre Jordan – The two big men will be critical to their respective teams in terms of dominating the boards. But apart from that, Whiteside will also need to bounce back offensively against Jordan’s formidable defense for the Heat to get back on track.
Heat projected starting lineup
PG – Goran Dragic | SG – Dion Waiters | SF – Josh Richardson | PF – Okaro White | C – Hassan Whiteside
Clippers projected starting lineup
PG – Patrick Beverley | SG – Austin Rivers | SF – Danilo Gallinari | PF – Blake Griffin | C – DeAndre Jordan
Blake Griffin has not steered his fantasy owners wrong this season, as he’s putting up nearly 24 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game. He should be good value against just about any opponent with the way he’s been playing at the moment, but he could be especially productive against a Heat frontcourt that just allowed Nuggets power forward Paul Millsap to explode for 27 points and nine rebounds.
The Clippers may be on a back-to-back, but it’s hard to see them losing two games in a row at home. The Heat haven’t exactly been trustworthy either, which should make it easier to go with LA to win straight up.
The Clippers top the Heat at home, 108-100.
This game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Prime Ticket and Fox Sports Sun. Tip-off at Staples Center is at 3:30 pm Eastern.
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