Los Angeles Clippers: Erik Spoelstra

Clippers trying to emulate Heat

February, 6, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- Whenever Doc Rivers talks about championship expectations, championship defense and championship attitude, he points to the Miami Heat.

They are the unquestioned gold standard he holds up when trying to show the Los Angeles Clippers what they should aspire toward.

[+] EnlargeClippers/Heat
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsThere's a lot the Clippers can learn from the Heat if they hope to one day see Miami in the Finals.
And why not? After back-to-back championships and three straight trips to the NBA Finals, there aren’t many other teams a coach would want his team to emulate besides the Heat. Rivers, as the coach of the Boston Celtics, faced the Heat in the playoffs three consecutive seasons and got a firsthand look at the team he wants his Clippers to one day become.

On Wednesday, he once again got a firsthand look at the Heat as they came to Staples Center and defeated the Clippers, 116-112.

It was the second time Miami has beaten L.A. this season. The Clippers quietly pointed at playing the second night of a road back-to-back after the first loss, and pointed at playing without Chris Paul and J.J. Redick -- in addition to playing their 12th game in their 10th different city in 19 days -- after Wednesday’s loss.

The truth: The Clippers weren’t better than the Heat then and they’re not better than the Heat now.

That’s no surprise. The Clippers are still in the process of trying to become the kind of team that is talked about in the same sentence as the Heat and, more importantly, will be in a position to play the Heat at the end of the season come June.

“Teams like the Heat and San Antonio have the ultimate trust in each other, in their systems, in their rotations,” Rivers said. “They very rarely make a mistake. As a matter of fact, you can tell when they do make a mistake because they want to look at each other like they want to kill each other. We’re still in the middle of that. It’s good to see teams do it, and they’ve done it. They’ve been through everything.”

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Postgame thoughts: 1/11 win over Miami

January, 12, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- Here are a number of items of note from the Los Angeles Clippers' dramatic 95-89 overtime win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday at the Staples Center:

An aggressive Paul

One night after his worst performance as a Clipper in a 105-97 road loss to Portland, point guard Chris Paul rebounded for his best. The seven-year veteran was on his game from start to finish, leading all players in points (27) and assists (11) and playing a game-high 45 minutes. He had one turnover all game, and it came in the overtime period.

It was clear he was going to have a different type of night from the get-go. He had eight points, three assists and three rebounds in the first quarter as he consistently attempted to take his own shot and not deliver ones to others.

"I tried to be aggressive tonight," Paul said. "I didn't feel like I was in Portland."

Part of it was, of course, Miami's defensive approach. Paul always says he takes what the defense gives him. They gave him areas in which to penetrate, not passing lanes to deliver the ball into -- and so he attacked the basket all game.

His 21 shots were more than any Miami player's total and only two behind Blake Griffin's 9-of-23 night. Paul has only come within six shot attempts of Griffin on two other occasions this season.

"I was pleased to see Chris be more aggressive offensively, which we need him to be," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Wednesday.

A playoff atmosphere

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said it, but did it vibe with what was actually present on the court?

"That was great, compelling playoff basketball in early January," the Heat coach said.

Compelling, certainly. But great, not so much. The teams combined to shoot just over 40 percent from the field. But the crowd was lively throughout, and it did remind many of the Clippers' last playoff trip in 2006.

"The level was definitely raised a little bit," Griffin said. "Both teams were coming off a back-to-back, so I think we were tired. But the intensity was as high as it should be."

Lucky or unlucky

A lot of the errors came at the free-throw line, where the Heat shot just 59 percent (20-of-34). Star LeBron James was responsible for eight of those 14 misses, including two key ones down the stretch that could have given Miami the win.

"I didn't shoot the ball particularly well from the free-throw line," James said. "I split some and I missed two some. So I put a lot of the free throws on me. I need to concentrate a little more at the free-throw line and knock them down and we'll be fine."

Interestingly, Griffin said the Clippers weren't "lucky" that James missed the free throws. He said it was a normal part of the game. But center DeAndre Jordan said they were lucky. Told then that Griffin had said the opposite, Jordan jokingly deferred to his friend and the team's star forward.

Jordan and Evans

Jordan didn't do much offensively, but he did record six blocks and also rebound fairly well. His coaches and teammates were complementary of his performance.

"It's not only the blocks," Del Negro said. "It's the altering of shots, the knowing he's back there."

Likewise, forward Reggie Evans didn't score a point in 21 minutes, but his eight rebounds and energetic defensive play were also important to the victory.

"I think Reggie really set the tone on the defensive end," Paul said. "When he comes in the game and guys see how hard he's playing, you have no choice but to play hard."

Not much Mo

It's interesting that, in the Clippers' longest game of the 2011-2012 thus far, reserve guard Mo Williams played the fewest minutes he had all year. The 6-1 point guard played just 21 minutes in Wednesday's win, exactly the same as newly-signed forward Reggie Evans, and about half as many as Chauncey Billups and Paul.

But he was the only player other than Griffin and Paul to score in the first 21 minutes of the game, as nobody else got on the board until Caron Butler's free throws with three minutes remaining in the first half.

No more meetings

One of the byproducts of the shortened season this year is fewer Eastern-Western matchups, and nowhere is that more noticeable than with the Clippers and Heat.

Despite the fierceness of the teams' matchup Wednesday, they will not face each other again all season. Their only possible meeting would be in June, in the NBA Finals.



Blake Griffin
21.8 5.1 0.9 35.2
ReboundsD. Jordan 14.8
AssistsC. Paul 10.1
StealsC. Paul 1.9
BlocksD. Jordan 2.2