Game #40: Miami Heat (30-9) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (12-24)

'The Warden' put Wesley Matthews on lockdown with this screen.

The last time the Heat came to Los Angeles there was a different kind of hype surrounding the team.  Miami was just starting to hit their stride when they faced the Lakers on Christmas Day in one of the most anticipated games of the season.  This time around the opponent is the other L.A. team and hype-wise it's less about the game and more about the Heat and their impressive road-winning streak. 

A victory over the Clippers tonight would give the Heat 14-straight road wins, tying a franchise record set back in 1996 by the original ‘Miami road warriors' which featured Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Dan Majerle, Voshon Lenard, current Heat assistant coach Keith Askins and current Heat radio broadcaster John Crotty.  That Miami team, like this one, played some nasty defense, but the current Heat can score a little bit easier.

The Clippers have been playing well of late, and a lot of that is due to their amazing rookie Blake Griffin.  He averages a double double (21.8 and 12.6) and over his last 12 games he has put up at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.  I'll admit that I've only seem him in highlights and have been excited for this game for a while, though I hope he doesn't victimize the Heat with one of his crazy posterizing dunks that are quickly becoming his trademark.

As if Griffin wasn't enough to worry about, Los Angeles also has one of the leagues better backcourts, and that's an area that has given the Heat trouble.  Baron Davis didn't have the best start to the season but has been turning things around lately.  In his last 3 games Davis is averaging 18 points, 2 rebounds and 8 assists.  He's scored double-digit points in 5 of his last 6; recording at least 8 assists in each of those games. 

Then there's Eric Gordon.  In the Clippers last five wins Gordon has averaged 28.8 points.  He can be very dangerous from downtown and isn't afraid to put it up from back there, attempting at least 7 triples in 5 of his last 6 games.  He had a rough 10-point game during L.A.'s loss to the Hawks but in the two games since then Gordon has scored 53 points and made 7 three-pointers.

GAME NOTES

  • Miami is 13-1 when the Big 3 combine to score at least 75 points.
  • The Heat and Clippers have split their season series 3 straight years.
  • Miami has lost 5 of their last 6 games against the Clippers at the Staples Center.
  • Los Angeles has won 2 straight games and 7 of their last 10.
  • Dwyane Wade has scored 30+ points in 5 of the Heat's last 7 games, averaging 31.9 points during that stretch. 
  • Blake Griffin has recorded a double double in 23-straight games, a Clippers franchise record. 
  • Udonis Haslem (foot) is out for the Heat while center Jamaal Magloire (back) is doubtful.
  • For the Clippers, Chris Kaman (ankle) and Craig Smith (back) are out and Brian Cook (ankle) is questionable. 

Tipoff from the Staples Center is set for 10:30.  I'm curious to see what kind of celebrity turnout there is to see the ‘Heatles'.  There are always a few A-listers at Lakers games so we'll see who comes out to see LeBron and co. play the Clippers. 

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