The Los Angeles Clippers have been terrific at home, but they haven’t played in their building very often lately.
They’ll get that chance Wednesday night when they open a five-game homestand with a matchup against a Miami Heat team that hasn’t won on the road in this series in over six years.
The Clippers, who will be playing for just the third time in Los Angeles in the past 12 games, have averaged 112.6 points in winning seven in a row on their home floor. Forward Blake Griffin has been a catalyst, averaging 26.6 points and shooting 59.5 percent during that stretch.
Los Angeles’ strength at home will be countered by the Heat’s dominance in the month of February. Since 2010-11, the team’s first season with LeBron James and Chris Bosh on the roster, Miami has gone 34-6 in the month. That includes 14 victories in a row and wins in 22 of its last 23 February games.
"As long as we don’t turn the ball over and we rebound, or at least keep it close, we have a great chance of winning every game," James said. "We know that we are going to shoot the ball, we’re going to share the ball and we’re going to defend."
The Heat (34-13) topped Detroit 102-96 on Monday as Dwyane Wade led the way with 30 points and 10 rebounds while James added 24 points, 11 assists and eight boards. Wade’s performance was especially encouraging for Miami, as he played more than 37 minutes for one of his highest totals of the season.
Wade, who rested for four games Jan. 18-23, has totaled 52 points and shot 23 for 34 (67.6 percent) in the last two contests.
"Since I got back, I’ve been looking for ways to be aggressive when I can," Wade said. "I’m just doing what I can."
The Clippers (34-17) are coming off a tough loss, falling 116-115 to Denver on Monday on a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Los Angeles, which has dropped two of three, took the lead with 6.2 seconds remaining on a 3 by Matt Barnes.
Griffin had 36 points and 11 rebounds, but he went 6 of 10 from the free-throw line in the second half. Los Angeles, which ranks among the NBA’s top teams in total rebounds, lost the battle on the glass 52-37. The Clippers allowed 17 offensive rebounds which resulted in 24 second-chance points for the Nuggets.
"Offensive rebounds were huge," Griffin said. "The turnovers down the stretch were big. I’ve got to shoot better from the free throw line. All of those things."
When these teams met Nov. 7 in Miami, the Clippers held James to 18 points. However, they could not contain Wade, as he scored 11 of his 29 points during the fourth quarter in a 102-97 Heat victory. Griffin had 27 points and 14 rebounds.
The Clippers have won the last five meetings between these clubs at Staples Center since Miami’s 100-94 victory Dec. 9, 2007.
The Heat are opening a stretch of six straight games on the road. Miami is 14-9 away from home after going 29-12 last season.