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The Los Angeles Clippers (31-14; 24-21 ATS) continue their east-coast journey Friday night when they visit the Miami Heat (31-13; 24-18-2 ATS) at American Airlines Arena. The Clippers have just snapped a four-game win streak with an unexpected loss at the Atlanta Hawks and will have a tall task to bounce back against one of the best teams in the league. These two interconference foes will take on each other for the first time this season, and the Heat have won three of their last four encounters with the Clippers who have been victorious in their previous visit to Miami.
The Clippers could miss Paul George (hamstring) and Patrick Beverley (groin) who are both listed as doubtful. The Heat are still without Justise Winslow (back), while Jimmy Butler (knee) and Goran Dragic (calf) are listed as questionable on Miami’s latest injury report.
The visitors opened as 2.5-point favorites with the total at 222.5 points. That late injury report obviously forced the bookies to favor the Clippers.
What’s at Stake?
The Clippers are No. 3 seed in the West at the moment and will need every game in their hunt for the first-round home-court advantage. It’s the same story with the Heat in the East. Miami is No. 2 seed just one game ahead of the Raptors and 7.5 games behind the Bucks.
The clash against the Heat will be the Clippers’ fourth straight outing away from home. After a couple of wins in Dallas and New Orleans, the Clippers have lost at the Atlanta Hawks 102-95 on Wednesday despite leading by 21 points late in the second quarter. On the other side, the Heat are coming off a 134-129 overtime victory to the Washington Wizards this past Thursday, just three days after beating the Sacramento Kings 118-113 in overtime.
The Clippers lean heavily on Kawhi Leonard who missed the clash against the Hawks due to load management. The Claw has been averaging 32.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists over his last eight outings while making 50.3% of his field goals in that span. With Paul George on the sidelines, Lou Williams (19.9 PPG, 6.1 APG) and Montrezl Harrell (19.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG) will have to shoulder more of the Clippers’ offense.
Jimmy Butler (20.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 6.5 APG) will be all over Kawhi Leonard, no doubt. That’s the matchup we’re looking for in this game. Butler has been tallying 20.1 points per game on 51.1% shooting from the field in his last eight outings, so Kawhi will have to pay attention to Jimmy on the defensive end. That will open more space for guys like Kendrick Nunn (16.2 PPG, 35.6 3P%), Bam Adebayo (15.8 PPG, 10.5 RPG), and Goran Dragic (15.8 PPG, 5.0 APG).
This one will be the battle of two excellent defensive teams. The Clippers allow only 106.5 points per 100 possessions (7th in the league) on 43.7% shooting from the field (3rd) and 34.3% from beyond the arc (9th). The Heat surrender 108.3 points per 100 possessions (13th) on 44.5% shooting from the field (8th) and 32.6% from downtown (1st).
Also, both LA and Miami possess great depth with so many interesting players coming off the bench. The battle of second units could be an X-factor Friday night.
This should be a tight game decided by a few points down the stretch. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get overtime, considering the fact that eight of Miami’s games this season went in overtime. It’s really tough to say who will win. The Heat are 20-1 straight up and 14-6-1 ATS at home this season, so if you like to follow betting trends, go with the hosts to win straight up. The Clippers are 12-10 straight up and 10-12 ATS on the road this season.
I would stay away from the side bet and take the under on the totals instead. As I’ve mentioned, both teams are capable of playing some really tough defense, while Miami will certainly try to slow down the tempo. The Heat average only 98.2 possessions per 48 minutes, and the Clippers play at a much faster pace, recording 102.5 possessions per 48 minutes. The under is 8-0-1 in the previous nine encounters between the Clippers and Heat.
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