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Free NBA Picks – Miami Heat @ Los Angeles Clippers Odds and Predictions on ESPN 1/11/12

NBA Betting – Miami Heat @ Los Angeles Clippers Odds, Free Picks and Predictions -NBA Picks and Odds 1/11/12: Last offseason, the Miami Heat made a huge splash by landing free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh. This year, it was the Los Angeles Clippers making a deal to acquire Chris Paul that grabbed the headlines. Both sides have to be happy with the results, as both enter Wednesday’s meeting in Los Angeles sitting atop their respective divisions. Both star-studded teams will be looking for a statement victory in this early season matchup.

NBA Basketball

Looking at the starting lineups, it is easy to see why both teams are off to fast starts. Miami’s big three of James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade look even stronger in year two, and point guard Mario Chalmers is looking more in rhythm with his superstar teammates. Meanwhile, the additions of Paul, Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups have transformed the Clippers’ backcourt, making Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan two of the most efficient post scorers in the NBA.  

Both teams have been the model of efficiency on offense this season. Miami is leading the NBA in scoring, averaging 108.3 points per game, while the Clippers rank sixth in scoring offense (99.7). The Heat also leads the league in field goal percentage, hitting more than 50 percent of their shots, with Los Angeles ranking second in the same category. Given the star power for both sides, it isn’t surprising that both teams rank in the top four in terms of free throw attempts.  

While both offenses have been impressive this year, both teams have defenses ranked in the top 10 in scoring as well. Miami has been better at generating turnovers, forcing an NBA-best 19.3 per game, but the Clippers rank in the top 10 as well. The Heat also ranks third in field goal percentage defense, and the team’s ability to force opponents into tough shots should come in handy against a Clippers’ group that has getting plenty of easy buckets.

Another matchup to watch will be the Los Angeles bench versus the Miami bench. The Heat has excellent depth this season, and a victory on the road against the Hawks without James and Wade proves it. Forward Udonis Haslem and rookie Norris Cole lead a group that plays tough defense and can score. Los Angeles doesn’t have the same luxury. Outside of Mo Williams, the Clippers don’t have a lot of firepower off the bench. With both teams coming off games the night before, fatigue could be an issue. With more fresh bodies to work with, Miami could wear down the Clippers in the second half.

An X-factor in the game could be Los Angeles’ struggles on the glass. The Clippers are currently the worst rebounding team in the NBA, and the Heat averages almost as many defensive boards as Los Angeles does total rebounds. If the trend continues Wednesday night, the Clippers could be looking at one shot in a majority of their possessions. Meanwhile, James and the rest of the Miami big men could have plenty of second chance opportunity. Easy buckets add up during the course of a game, and Miami should have a big advantage in that area.

The crowd at the Staples Center will no doubt be rocking as the Clippers get a shot at knocking of a Heat team widely considered the best in the NBA. That being said, Los Angeles hasn’t been all that impressive against the top teams this season. The Clippers’ three losses have come against San Antonio, Chicago and Portland, and the Heat is certainly on par if not better than those teams. Miami’s fast-paced, attacking style on offense and ability to crash the boards should exploit the Clippers’ too biggest weaknesses. The Heat knows firsthand that it takes time to learn how to win big games. Los Angeles is dealing with the same issue early this season.

 Prediction: Miami Heat (-4) Covers the Spread

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