Game Analysis

Two of the NBA’s best teams face each other Friday, both eyeing second place in their respective conferences. Both teams acquired big-name players in the offseason, hoping to become championship contenders. The Los Angeles Clippers have won seven of 10 games and are just a half game behind second place Utah in the Western Conference. The Clippers, not surprisingly, have been led by reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. Leonard is averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, and assists while shooting 47 percent. Fellow newcomer Paul George is averaging nearly 24 points per game, and the Clippers have a potent supporting cast that helps the team rank fourth in the league in scoring. Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell are both averaging 19 points per game, and have played key roles with George limited by injuries for parts of the season. The Clippers’ defense, which features accomplished defensive players Leonard, George, and Patrick Beverley, has only been middling this season, at 14th in the league in points allowed per game. The Heat have also been led by their big name acquisition, Jimmy Butler, who is scoring 20 points per game and has imprinted his hard-nosed style on his teammates. The Heat are also getting major contributions from two less heralded players, though. Undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn is averaging nearly 17 points per game and shooting 36 percent from three-point range. Third-year center Bam Adebayo is having an All-Star caliber season, averaging nearly 16 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 1.2 blocks, and 1.2 steals per game. Expect the Heat to take -- and make -- a lot of three-pointers. Miami is the second-best three-point shooting team in the league. Miami has surpassed Eastern Conference favorites Boston, Toronto, and Philadelphia in the standings, with a one game lead over the third place Raptors. Both teams enter the game winning four of their last five. This is their first game against each other this season. The Clippers are 23-21-1 against the spread this season and the Heat are 25-18-1.

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