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Game #35: Miami Heat (18-16) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (16-18)

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After their stunning victory Friday night in Phoenix, the Heat now head into a tough back-to-back set that begins today in L.A.  The Clippers have been waiting patiently for the Heat since Wednesday, when they played their last game.  It was a ‘home' win over the Lakers, their first win against their roommates in nine tries.  It was a big deal for the Clips, who have been slowly gaining an identity in a city where they have always seemed like the non-favorite stepchild. 

Meanwhile, the Heat have kept us guessing which version of the team will show up on a gamely basis, but recent developments have given us something new to be excited about.  Their win in the land of the sun on Friday was nothing to scoff at, and I think that it could be the beginning of a very fun 2010 for Miami.   

The Heat won on Friday despite having some of their most common problems stare them in the face, the main one being the word that has plagued me all year, inconsistency.  Dwyane Wade scored 33 points, but just 1 in the 4th quarter.  Michael Beasley finished with 21 points, but scored 18 of them in the 1st half.  Those are the Heat's best two scoring options and they scored a combined 3 points in the crucial 4th quarter, yet somehow the Heat managed to escape with the win. 

Sure, the fact that the rest of the team was able to pick up the slack is a great thing.  Now just imagine if Wade and Beasley can start putting together complete games while the rest of the team continues to improve around them.  The offense is getting a major shot in the arm now that Rafer Alston is running things.  Today should provide the Heat with a formidable challenge, but nothing that they can't handle.  It really shouldn't matter who the opponent is because I believe that when this team is playing at their best (or even close to it), they should be able to beat any team in the NBA. 

GAME NOTES

  • The Clippers have won 5 straight games at the Staples Center.  They haven't won 6 in a row at home since November 2006. 
  • Since the calendar turned to 2010 Dwyane Wade is averaging 33.5 points, 6.3 boards, 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals. 
  • Miami had better watch out in the standings.  Just a few weeks ago they held a 4-game lead over 6th place Toronto but now the Raptors are just a half game behind Miami.  They are 8-2 in their last 10 games and just swept a 2-game road trip in Philly and Orlando.
  • Friday's win in Phoenix marked the first time in the Heat's franchise that their opponent didn't record a steal.
  • In their last two games, the Heat have outscored their opponent 49-12 off of turnovers. 
  • The Clippers are 6-1 in the 7 games that former Heat forward Rasul Butler has started for them. 

Tipoff from the biggest office supply closet in the world is set for 3:30 our time.  The Clippers are no pushovers, but after winning in Phoenix the Heat should be flying high and ready to take on the world.  Let's hope for a real strong effort because tomorrow the Heat get to play the Jazz, another very tough team to beat at home.  Let's go Heat!!!