Halfway through a rigorous six-game road trip, LeBron James and the 6-2 Miami Heat roll into Los Angeles Wednesday night for their first dose of Blake Griffin and the Clippers at Staples Center.
After a rough start, the Clippers are making the leap to the top of the Western Conference and currently control the Pacific Division with a 5-2 record.
Jamal Crawford and center DeAndre Jordan head the NBA’s third highest scoring offense, and Los Angeles has ripped off three straight wins.
Jordan is averaging a career-high 11.3 points per game, and leads the league in field-goal percentage at 72 percent. Coming of the bench, Crawford is commanding double teams with his team-high 20.3 points a contest, and even put up 40 points in the Clippers 105-95 win over the rival Los Angeles Lakers earlier this month.
On Sunday, the Clippers bench came through in their 89-76 over the Atlanta Hawks. Crawford, along with Matt Barnes and Eric Bledsoe, combined for 33 points, and carried Los Angeles in the fourth quarter for the win. All-Star point guard Chris Paul also chipped in 15 points and dished out eight assists.
The Clippers have put together quality wins over the Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies, but their toughest test at this early juncture of the season comes against the Heat.
James scored 32 of his 38 points in the second half of Miami’s 113-110 win over the Houston Rockets Monday. The reigning MVP also hit five-of-eight three-point attempts, to go along with 10 rebounds.
Forward Chris Bosh also grabbed 10 boards and scored 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra may ask James to carry the team once again, with shooting guard Dwyane Wade a game-time decision due to a sprained left foot.
Wade sat out Miami’s shootaround today, and is awaiting the results of an X-ray. If those comeback negative, Wade will test out the foot to see if he can play.
Spoelstra could also turn to Miami's biggest free agent acquisistion of the summer in Ray Allen. Averaging 27 minutes per game, the sharpshooting veteran is nailing three-pointers at a 54 percent clip this season.
The matchup tips-off at 10:30 p.m. eastern time and will be broadcast by ESPN. If you can’t get to a television, you can watch game online at Watch ESPN here, by submitting your cable provider information.
Betting Odds: Miami is favored by 1 point.
Over/Under: 198 points
Prediction: If Wade does sit out, the Heat have fewer options to defend Crawford and Paul. Griffin’s production is down, but he is due for a breakout game and should come thru for a Clippers win.
Predicted Score: Clippers 100, Heat 96