MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Last year around the time of the Super Bowl, the Miami Heat kicked it into high gear and ran off 27 straight wins that helped launch a second straight run to the NBA championship.
This year, the Super Bowl was last Sunday and the Heat are starting to put together another solid few weeks, running off eight wins in the team’s last 10 games. Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers was the beginning of a six game road trip that will give the Heat a good barometer of where they stand in the league this year.
The Heat torched the Clippers in the early parts of the game before having to hold on late to beat Los Angeles 116-112. The Heat had seven players score in double-figures with LeBron James finishing just two rebounds short of a triple-double.
While the Heat looked good in the victory, a familiar refrain came up during the game with Miami unable to stop Los Angeles’ big men. Clippers power forward Blake Griffin was especially lethal, scoring 43 points, grabbing 15 rebounds, and handing out six assists.
Just as important was Clippers center DeAndre Jordan who scored 16 points and pulled down 16 rebounds for the Clippers. Overall, Los Angeles outrebounded Miami 52-31 in the game, but also had 20 turnovers in the game.
The Clippers received almost all of their scoring from Griffin, Jordan, and Jamal Crawford, who had 31 points from his scoring guard position.
What Miami was able to do much better than the Clippers was shot from behind the arc (41.9 percent to 28 percent) and overall shooting from the field (52.6 percent to 43 percent). Miami’s balanced performance also kept the minutes down for most players, with only LeBron James playing 40 minutes in the game.
Dwyane Wade continued to work his way back from knee injuries and had 14 points on 5-8 shooting and handed out 8 assists in the game.
Combined, the Heat’s Big Three scored 60 points, 19 rebounds, and 24 assists in the game against the Clippers. That’s roughly in line with the trio on the season that is averaging 61.6 points, 18.3 rebounds, and 12.4 assists per game.
However, the Heat managed to pull out the victory with Clippers All-Star point guard Chris Paul on the bench. Still, a win is a win and the Heat is starting to getting warmed up as the season nears the halfway point.
Currently, Miami ranks eighth in the league in points per game, 11th in the league in opponent points per game, and second in the league in offensive rating. Last season, the Heat finished the season fifth in points per game and fifth in opponent points per game and was second in offensive rating.
Miami will stay on the current road trip with games against the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks, and a big rematch with the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City on February 20 before coming home.
The Jazz game should be a win, but Phoenix is improved while Dallas and Golden State will be hard-fought games for the Heat.