Los Angeles Clippers at Miami Heat Preview
The 31-13 Heat will be hosting the 31-14 LA Clippers. These teams feature some of the best perimeter defense in the NBA. The Clippers obviously have the edge talent-wise against the Heat, yet Miami can easily win this regular-season game at home. They match up solid with the Clippers while having the depth to keep pace with their lethal 2nd unit. Arguably the two best players out of both teams play for the Clippers, but they will be without the services of one Paul George. As a result, much more will be required of Lou Williams against a versatile Miami defense. Unlike the majority of teams in the NBA, Miami has the skill and length at the wing positions to put up a fight against this Clippers team. Although not necessarily a weak spot, perhaps the weakest link for the Clippers is inside, relying heavily on Zubac. As a result, Bam Adebayo, Myles Leonard, and Kelly Olynyk have the chance to have great success. While the Clippers have the slight edge at the wing, and the Heat are better inside, the guard play may ultimately be the deciding factor.
Time: 8:00 PM ET
Arena: American Airlines, Miami, Fl
Clippers: Paul George, Patrick Beverley (DTD)
Heat: Jimmy Butler (DTD), Goran Dragic (DTD), Kendrick Nunn (DTD), Justice Winslow
Clippers Starting Lineup
The Clippers are coming off a surprising defeat to the Hawks in their last matchup. Reports of players being uneasy about special treatment for Leonard and George may cause some problems. It can very well inspire them to start playing even better team ball. The reality of the situation is that this Clippers team is far from its peak. The Clippers team we see now will have a completely different persona come March and April. There is cause for concern with some games they should have won. Yet, in big games, Kawhi Leonard proves to step up when it matters most. Going against arguably a top 3 two-way player in the league in Jimmy Butler, look for Kawhi to prove his dominance. The Clippers have bounced back fairly well after losses this season, with only 1 losing streak of multiple games. With George out, other guys will have more shot opportunities and the chance to have the ball in their hands more.
Miami Heat Starting Lineup
The Heat are clearly one of the deepest and best defensive teams in the league. That is a formula for success in the playoffs. Jimmy Butler was recently snubbed from the East All-star starters. This may energize an already crazy-motivated individual. With the play of Bam Adebayo this season, the Heat seem to have a great duo and perfect compliments around them. The Heat have proven to be almost unbeatable at home, with their lone home loss this year against the Los Angeles Lakers. This Clippers team certainly has what it takes to join the Lakers. Success for the Heat will come down to how well they force Kawhi to take tough shots. They have the defenders to somewhat contain Lou Williams. Their length/physicality and team defense, in general, will make things interesting in this matchup.
Key Player Matchups
Jimmy Butler vs. Kawhi Leonard
It is no secret how great these two are on both ends of the floor. With Paul George out, expect them to match up on each other more than usual. Leonard is bigger, stronger, a better shooter, as well as a better defender. Butler is the better playmaker of the two. Both players realize the importance of the mid-range game and have several similarities in their player traits. The key in this matchup will be who takes over down the stretch. Which player wills their team to victory? These are two of the top-5 most clutch players in the league, so get your popcorn ready.
Ivica Zubac vs. Bam Adebayo
Bam Adebayo is the better, much more imposing player. Although Zubac does not have the explosion to match, he has plenty of height and girth. This matchup will come down to the pick-n-roll and the offensive boards. This matchup will be huge to start out the game.
For the Clippers, Leonard is sure to have a big day in fantasy with George out. Look for Williams to also rack up some points. For the Heat, their winners for fantasy night-to-night is almost unpredictable. Given the main strength of perimeter defense for the Clippers, Bam Adebayo is the only sure-fire player to have a solid day in fantasy for the Heat.
Bet on Matchup
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