Heat vs. Clippers Preview: Can Paul George & Co. Cover at Home?

Action Network NBA betting contributor Kenny Ducey previews the Thursday night matchup between the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers.

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Heat vs. Clippers Odds

Heat Odds +3.5
Clippers Odds -3.5
Over/Under 211.5 
Time 10:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Miami Heat gave everything they had in a narrow loss to the Los Angels Lakers on Wednesday night, and now they must turn around on no rest — a spot that’s been kind to them in recent seasons — to take on the streaking L.A. Clippers.

Will the trends prevail in Miami’s favor, or will Ty Lue’s team win a sixth straight? Let’s take a look at the numbers and find our answer.

Heat Haven’t Reached Their Peak

Miami made a fast start to this season, but it can’t be happy with the way things have been going of late. The Heat have lost three of their last four, with the one win coming in impressive fashion against the Utah Jazz. Still, falling to the Boston Celtics, Lakers and Denver Nuggets — measuring stick games for the Heat — is incredibly disappointing. The latter at least makes a little sense given Denver’s great numbers, but a 17-point loss certainly doesn’t.

Even with that, the Heat still rank fourth in offensive efficiency and seventh in defense. By all accounts, this is a very good basketball team, one that has thrived by scoring inside. The Heat rank in the top 11 in field goal percentage in the paint and in the restricted area, and have taken the fourth-most shots on average from mid-range, where they’re shooting 40.1%.

It’s rarely encouraging to see a team so reliant on the two-point field goal these days, but it’s important to remember this team still hasn’t gotten anything from Duncan Robinson, who is shooting 32.7% from behind the arc, and Kyle Lowry’s 31.7% clip from deep isn’t doing this team much good, either. There’s still a ton of upward mobility for this offense.

Finally, as I alluded to in the open, the Heat will play this game on the second night of a back-to-back, which is surprisingly a good thing. Miami is 1-0 against the spread so far this year in these scenarios and 10-4 since the beginning of last season. Under Erik Spoelstra, Miami is 105-97-7 ATS on the second night of back-to-backs, good for a 52% cover rate.

Paul George Doing It All For L.A.

The Clippers may not have Kawhi Leonard, but they are absolutely thriving right now. L.A. has won five straight games and has been carried by Paul George, who enters this contest averaging 26.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2.5 steals. He’s already had four 30-point outings and continues to knock down shots through heavy contests.

The Clippers have also begun shooting the three with more consistency. After eclipsing 33% just once in their first four games, they’ve knocked down 40.3% of their looks from deep over the last six games, which ranks second in the NBA over that span. George has led the charge, starting off the season by hitting on just 30.8% of his 3s and shooting 40.8% since. Luke Kennard and Nic Batum continue to contribute in that area as well while L.A. waits for Kawhi Leonard (and Marcus Morris) to return.

On the defensive side of the ball, L.A. now ranks third in efficiency rating despite not having Leonard, Morris or Serge Ibaka healthy. The Clippers are also allowing the lowest field goal percentage inside 10 feet at 51.6% and rank third-best at defending the restricted area and the paint.

Heat-Clippers Pick

The Heat are not in a very good spot here, despite the fact that they’ve historically done well on the second night of back-to-backs under Spoelstra. They thrive on scoring inside with their slashers and Bam Adebayo, and will be in a real spot of bother against this Clippers defense.

In addition, it’s just been hard to contain the Clippers’ shooters, and now that they’re at home — where they shot better from three last year — I see no reason why this team will slow down from the arc.

Additionally, tired legs shouldn’t stand to help the Heat improve their three-point shooting, which will be the key to unlocking some more firepower on offense.

Pick: Clippers -3.5