The Miami Heat (34-15) and Los Angeles Clippers (35-15) are some of the best teams in basketball this year. Both went through major transformations this summer, and landing marquee players over the offseason has played a big part in each side’s success. Adding Jimmy Butler to a Heat team budding with young talent has helped create a tight-knit unit that can compete with anybody. Los Angeles prided itself in being a playoff team with no stars in 2018-19, but have since added Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to become a powerhouse in the Western Conference. But George didn’t play when the Clippers topped the Heat in January. We broke down the best Showdown lineup strategies to use in tonight’s contests here:
Kawhi Leonard ($16,500) lit Miami up last month. He notched a triple-double on the road in AmericanAirlines Arena by tallying 33 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. If he was able to put up numbers like that without a co-star and while being defended by Jimmy Butler ($15,000), I don’t see why he can’t do it again in the Staples Center. Paul George ($14,100) is back in the mix now, but Leonard is the main option and contributes more across the board right now. He’s scored at least 30 points in nine of his last 10 games and has only dipped under 20 shot attempts once during that span. This seems like a pretty safe pick to me.
Post defense is one place the Clippers are weak, and the Heat have an All-Star center in Bam Adebayo ($14,400). Adebayo had an impressive all-around performance the last time he faced Los Angeles. He totaled 18 points, eight rebounds and nine assists in the contests. The Clippers give up the sixth points in the paint per game (44.6) to opponents, so there’s potential for a big night in the trenches. Ivica Zubac, Maurice Harkless, and Montrezl Harrell shouldn’t have an answer for Adebayo on the block, and his playmaking and defense are pluses as well. I’m lower on Butler becuase he’ll likely face two elite wing defenders — Leonard and George — throughout this one.
The Heat are dealing with some injuries to their frontcourt, as Justice Winslow is still dealing with a lingering back injury and Myers Leonard suffered an ankle injury earlier this week. This makes me high on Harrell ($8,400), who is averaging 19.1 points per game and could dominate Miami’s reserves in pick-and-roll sets. Zubac ($4,800) has modest scoring numbers, but has seen a jump in rebounding lately. He could also play well against an undersized opponent.
Kendrick Nunn ($6,000) and Duncan Robinson ($5,200) could have to carry more of the load offensively while Tyler Herro (foot) is out. Either one can pop off on any given night. Robinson tallied 16 points, three rebounds and five assists the last time he faced the Clippers and is always a threat to heat up from long range.