Miami Heat at Los Angeles Clippers
7:30 p.m. PT
ESPN and Fox Sports West Prime Ticket
KFWB 980 AM
1. Who has the better depth: the Clippers or the Heat?
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: The Clippers by a hair. L.A. has a slightly better starting line-up (D.J., Blake and CP3 win their individual match-ups), but Miami has the deeper bench (Haslem, Cole, Battier, Jones, Miller). There’s no denying the fact that these two teams are comparable talent-wise, though.
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: The Clippers – and not just because the additions of Reggie Evans and Solomon Jones have nearly pushed Brian Cook out of the rotation (or, as we refer to it in my house, “The Impossible Dream”). Shane Battier is off to a terrible start, averaging under four points and two boards a game, while Udonis Haslem has been slowed by a cracked rib. Mo Williams will be far and away the best player coming off either bench tonight.
Breene Murphy, ClipperBlog: Clippers, though it’s close. The Heat are getting deeper. They added Shane Battier with rookies Norris Cole and Terrel Harris, but they still don’t have that much depth beyond LeBron, Wade and Bosh. Beyond CP3 and Blake, the Clippers have solid to serviceable players in DeAndre, Chauncey, Caron, Mo, Reggie and, sometimes, Randy Foye.
2. Bigger mismatch: Chris Paul against Mario Chalmers or LeBron James against Caron Butler?
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: On paper, Chris Paul vs. Mario Chalmers. However, we know better. Paul has yet to play his best in a Clipper uniform yet and I doubt he will against Miami’s elite defense, in which they can also put Wade or James on him. Butler, on the other hand, has struggled defensively because he’s lost a step or two. Now, he has to guard the best player on the plant. Uh oh.
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: LeBron against Caron Butler. Chris Paul has already had a few brilliant moments, but he has yet to show the inclination to just out-and-out dominate a game, preferring, by and large, to distribute first and selectively choose his spots. Don’t expect LeBron James to have any such qualms. If the Clippers continue to struggle defending penetration off the pick-and-roll (and, really, there’s no reason to think they won’t) LeBron will spend the night in the lane and on the line.
Breene Murphy, ClipperBlog: LeBron against Caron. If Caron’s letting Gerald Wallace go 8 for 12 from the field, what’s going to happen with LeBron?
3. Fact or Fiction: The Clippers take care of business at home against the Heat.
Jovan Buha, ClipperBlog: Fiction. And it might not even be close. I penciled this game in as a loss when I saw it — it’s just too early in the season for the Clippers to hang with the Heat. Their defense (off the pick-and-roll and in transition) and rebounding are subpar and they tend to turn the ball over in flurries (I can envision a huge Heat run). Oh yeah, they have not one, but two elite wing scorers/defenders/players. This could get ugly.
Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog: Fact. The Clippers are coming off a tough loss last night, but so are the Heat, who went to overtime before losing in Golden State. A pumped up home crowd will keep the Staples Center loud and the energy high as the Clips eke out a close win.
Breene Murphy, ClipperBlog: Fiction (sigh). While it’s easy to point to last year’s team winning against the Heat, that team had its strongest defenders on the wing (Gordon and, yes, Gomes) to combat Wade and LeBron. This year? Not so much. I do have some hope of Chris Paul and Chauncey taking care of the ball well enough that they stifle the Heat’s lethal transition game, but in a game against the Wolves, LeBron comfortably switched onto Rubio and completely altered the game.
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