The Miami Heat know what they need to improve on to get back in the win column. But it might be more a matter of who over what on the defensive end when they take the court tonight in Los Angeles.
The Clippers announced that three key starters — Kawhi Leonard (leg contusion), Paul George (swollen toe), Patrick Beverley (rest) — will miss the contest, according to head coach Tyronn Lue. Los Angeles will likely field a starting lineup featuring Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Lou Williams, Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka versus a Miami squad looking to get back on track.
UPDATE: The Clippers ruled Batum out with a migraine about 90 minutes prior to tip-off in Los Angeles. That likely thrusts veteran Marcus Morris Sr. into the starting five. Meanwhile, Avery Bradley, Goran Dragic, Meyers Leonard, Chris Silva are sidelined for Miami.
The Heat need to “bounce back” after falling 112-94 on Saturday night in Utah. The Clippers have won three straight games, including a 128-111 victory last night over Cleveland.
The last time the Clippers and Heat faced off was on Jan. 28 in what amounted to a 109-105 win for Los Angeles. Leonard, George, Beverley all missed that contest as well and Tyler Herro scored a game-high 19 points. Bam Adebayo chipped in 16 points and 13 rebounds in that one, with Jimmy Butler sidelined due to health and safety protocols. The Heat cannot lose twice to a severely undermanned Clippers team. It’s as close to a must-win game as they come in February.
“Sometimes I feel like we didn’t give multiple efforts when we should have,” Adebayo said after Saturday’s loss, “and it’s important for us to bounce back. You know, this next game [versus LA], that’s what we gotta do, that’s what we get paid for. We play to win, so we gotta bounce back.”
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Butler Making History, Shout Out From D-Wade
Butler may have missed 10 games this season but he’s been making up for the lost time in a hurry. The All-Star forward recorded his first triple-double last Thursday (27 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) and 10th for his career. Butler has six of them in a Heat uniform, moving by future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade (five) for second on the franchise’s all-time list. LeBron James tops the list with 14 triple-doubles.
Butler has been racking up the milestones, too. He recorded his 10,000th career point and 3,000th career rebound in the same game, on Jan. 30 against the Sacramento Kings. Butler now has 10,155 points in 595 games, plus 3,064 rebounds and 2,252 assists. He’s averaging 19.1 points per game in 32.1 minutes per game this year.
Moe Harkless Working Way Back into Shape
Heat forward Moe Harkless has been working hard to get healthy and contribute on the court. The 27-year-old has been out since seeing 10 minutes on Jan. 23 as he deals with a thigh bruise suffered in that contest.
Harkless has been limited in team workouts but there is growing optimism that he might be able to give it a go during this brutal seven-game road trip. He practiced in a full capacity on Sunday.
“My thigh feels good,” Harkless told reporters, via the Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman. “Definitely felt good to just be out here and be on the court with the guys. I’ve kind of just been doing a bunch of solo stuff where we’ve been rehabbing the thigh.”