Clippers vs. Heat NBA Preview

Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Miami Heat dunks. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP
Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Miami Heat dunks. Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

Now that the L.A. Clippers are short-handed, the Under belongs in your NBA picks for Thursday’s road game against the Miami Heat.

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Miami Heat

at AmericanAirlines Arena

 This is about the worst thing that could happen to the Los Angeles Clippers (13-5 SU, 10-8 ATS). Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are both out of the lineup this week, thanks to the league’s coronavirus protocols; without their top two players, the Clippers fell 108-99 to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. More importantly for our NBA picks, they also went Under 227 despite a late scoring outburst from both teams. Either way, as expected, it was a struggle for L.A. to put points on the board.

Now the Clippers, sans Leonard and George (and Patrick Beverley, who remains out with a sore knee), are preparing for Thursday’s matchup with the Miami Heat – and this time, it’s the Heat (6-11 SU, 6-10-1 ATS) who will be playing on zero days of rest. Plus, they have a ton of talent listed as day-to-day, including three key players who didn’t suit up for Miami’s 109-82 loss to the Denver Nuggets as 6-point home dogs on the NBA odds board. Despite all that confusion, FanDuel opened the Heat as 4.5-point favorites; we’re not seeing any totals yet at press time, but another speculative bet on the Under makes perfect sense.

Heat Loss

Everything hinges on who will be in uniform. Absent for the Heat on Wednesday were Goran Dragic (0.0 VORP), out with a tender groin, and Tyler Herro (minus-0.1 VORP), who missed his seventh straight game with a sore neck – but was a late scratch against the Nuggets. Either player might be back in uniform on Thursday. Jimmy Butler (0.2 VORP in six games) could make his return from the COVID-19 list any day now, having been in protocol since January 9. That’s the same day Avery Bradley (0.0 VORP in seven games) was put on the list, and he was back on the floor against Denver.

Further down Miami’s bench, Moe Harkless (thigh), Meyers Leonard (shoulder), and Chris Silva (hip) are all considered day-to-day, but even with their limited minutes – and effectiveness – it puts even more pressure on the other three players in question to get back in action as soon as possible. The Heat certainly missed them Wednesday night, and the Under crushed the NBA lines at bet365 on the posted total of 215 points.

Ideally, the more Heat players who miss Thursday’s matchup, which would mean more minutes for end-of-bench players like KZ Okpala and Max Strus (minus-0.1 VORP each), the more likely you should be to bet the Under. But again, the Clippers are missing Leonard (plus-1.2 VORP), George (plus-0.9 VORP), and Beverley (plus-0.2 VORP), and we saw how that affected L.A.’s offense versus the Hawks. The total will probably be available by the time you read this; calibrate your bets accordingly, and enjoy the game.

Pick: Under (odds to be added soon)