Erik Spoelstra looks to become the winningest coach in franchise history when the Miami Heat host the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. Spoelstra picked up win No. 454 on Friday to move into a tie with current team president Pat Riley atop the Heat’s victory list.
Riley served as a mentor to Spoelstra, so the 47-year-old feels a bit odd to be on the verge of surpassing the Hall of Famer on the team ledger. “That would seem like a misprint to me,” Spoelstra said about matching Riley with the 104-98 win over the Charlotte Hornets. “Pat has meant everything to me as a coach and as a mentor. I want to win (Saturday) night, but I don’t want to pass Coach Riley in wins. We all think of him as the guy who should have all the records.” The Heat defeated the Clippers 104-101 on Nov. 5 in Los Angeles and are looking to sweep the season series. The Clippers lost to the Washington Wizards 100-91 on Friday as their three-game winning streak ended.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Prime Ticket (Los Angeles), FSN Sun (Miami)
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (11-16): The injury-ravaged team saw guard Austin Rivers (concussion) join the ailing list that includes forwards Blake Griffin (knee) and Danilo Gallinari (glute) and point guard Patrick Beverley (knee). Rivers will likely miss his second straight game unless he clears the protocol prior to Saturday’s game, but point guard Milos Teodosic (recently back from a foot injury) will be available against the Heat after sitting out Friday for rest. Shooting guard Lou Williams scored 23 points against Washington for his seventh 20-point outing in the past nine games and he is averaging 25.8 points during the stretch.
ABOUT THE HEAT (14-14): Miami featured a balanced attack on Friday with seven players scoring in double digits and reserve guards Wayne Ellington and Tyler Johnson leading the way with 16 points apiece. The Heat continue to play without center Hassan Whiteside (sidelined for eight games with a knee injury) and forward Justise Winslow (last two due to knee issues), making the strong 3-point shooting by Johnson (4-of-4) and Ellington (5-of-10) on Friday extra timely. “When you have guys coming off the bench who can (combine) for 20 in a quarter, it’s tough,” reserve center Kelly Olynyk told reporters of the backcourt tandem. “They are making guys pay and making it easier for everybody else.”
1. The Clippers have won their past three visits to Miami.
2. Heat PG Goran Dragic is averaging just 9.5 points on 6-of-22 shooting over the past two games.
3. Los Angeles SF Wesley Johnson is 3-of-17 shooting over the past three games.
PREDICTION: Heat 112, Clippers 108