Miami Heat at Los Angeles Clippers (-5, 197 o/u)
The Miami Heat (22-16, 7-8 Away) started their six-game western road swing with a win but have since dropped two straight. They’ll look to get back on track tonight when they visit the Los Angeles Clippers (25-13, 13-6 Home) at the Staples Center (10:30 PM Eastern).
Miami picked up a win in Phoenix (103-95) to start the trip, then dropped lopsided contests to the Jazz (98-83) and Warriors (111-103).
Despite giving up 111 points to the high-flying Warriors, the Heat defense actually acquitted itself nicely; they limited the defending champs to just 41-percent from the field and 7 of 23 from beyond the arc. The performance was par for the course for a Miami defense that sits second in the NBA in points against, allowing just 95.2 per night.
Guard Dwyane Wade was the high-man for the Heat against Golden State, scoring 20 points and adding 11 dimes. He only shot 6 of 20 from the field, though, as he battled through a shoulder injury. The injury figures to impact him again tonight, but reports are that he’ll suit up, nonetheless.
“You’ve just got to fight and give your team whatever you have,” said Wade, who is a woeful 9 of 37 from the field over the last two games. “Everyone in this locker room is going through something. I just try to battle, get some rest and go on to the next one.”
The Clippers are suffering through injury problems of their own. Power forward and leading scorer Blake Griffin has been sidelined since late December (quadriceps) and will miss his ninth straight game tonight; center DeAndre Jordan (illness) is questionable.
Los Angeles has handled Griffin’s absence adeptly, winning nine straight. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t anxiously awaiting his return.
“We’re happy that we’re winning games, and we want to continue to try to keep winning and build up the team as much as possible. But this is not our team until 32 gets back,” point guard Chris Paul told the Associated Press.
The streak almost came to an end on Sunday as the Clippers needed OT to get by New Orleans, 114-111. It took 25 points and 11 dimes from Paul to secure the win.
Los Angeles is 7-2 against the spread on their current win streak. They are also 8-3 SU in their last 11 games at home against Miami. Bank on them to keep rolling at home tonight.
Pick: Clippers (-5.5).
Photo credit: Verse Photography (Flickr: 20131118 ClippersvGrizzles27) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)