Sports Out West

Miami Heat vs Los Angeles Clippers: AccuScore Preview

With King James in town, Blake Griffin and Los Angeles Clippers look to continue their overall success with Chris Paul still out due to a separated AC joint in his right shoulder. The Clippers are 11-5 since Paul went down on Jan. 3, and have been scoring at an alarming rate of 111.7 points per 100 possessions – most efficient in the NBA. With news that Chris Paul’s return is imminent, the Griffin-led Clippers will only have to tread water for just one more game. 

AccuScore has the Los Angeles Clippers as solid 62 percent favorites to win their matchup Wednesday night against the visiting Miami Heat. The average score after 10,000 simulations is 108-105, with the Clippers having nearly a 59 percent chance of covering the -1.5 spread. With both teams in the top 10 in team scoring, it’s understandable why there is a 58.1 percent chance the total combined score goes over 207.5.  

Projected Leaders

LeBron James: 27 points (52% FG), 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 turnovers

Blake Griffin: 23 points (52% FG), 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal

Dwyane Wade: 15 points (47% FG), 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block

Jamal Crawford: 22 points (3-8 3PM, 40% FG), 3 assists

Chris Bosh: 14 points (48% FG), 8 rebounds, 1 block

J.J. Redick: 14 points (2-5 3PM, 42% FG), 3 rebounds

DeAndre Jordan: 10 points (60% FG), 13 rebounds, 2 blocks

What to Watch for

According to Team Rankings, Miami averages 46.4 points per game in the paint, good for No. 7 in the league. The Clippers give up 44.2 points per game, seventh worst in the league. Fair or not, much of the blame has to go on Griffin and Jordan, the team’s rim protectors. 

According to SportVU data at Where Offense Happens and Hickory-High, DeAndre Jordan allows 51.5% at the rim (rank 84 of 135), and contests 44.3% of available shots (average of 42.1% for centers); Blake Griffin allows 51.9% at the rim (rank 88 of 135), and contests just 26.5% of shots (average of 32.4% for power forwards). Simply put, Jordan is slightly above average and Griffin is fairly below average when it comes to contesting shots at the rim.

Rim protection will be the defense’s No. 1 priority Wednesday night against the Heat, a team that gets nearly 46.1 percent of its total scoring production in the paint. 

Prediction

Regardless of how well the Clippers have played without Chris Paul, I will be shocked if the team doesn’t miss his presence in the closing moments of this game. AccuScore usually does a good job of projecting close games; however, even with the Clippers being the home team, I expect Miami to be extra motivated in a marquee matchup like this one. 103-98, Miami.  

Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images North America

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Rohit Ghosh

LA Clippers beat writer
Rohit is an L.A.-based sports journalist who contributes to SB Nation's Silver Screen and Roll, AccuScore, and the Taxi Squad Show based out of Utah. He also runs his own sports blog, Metta Chronicles. Follow him on Twitter @RohitGhosh where he discusses AccuScore projection data, a variety of sports-related topics, and even some Jazz music.