Commentary

For Clippers, the D is the key

Miami's offense will challenge L.A.'s contender status on Wednesday night

Updated: January 11, 2012, 11:42 AM ET
By Tom Haberstroh | ESPN Insider
Los Angeles ClippersAP Photo/Danny MoloshokThe Clippers will need to come together on defense this season in order to be elite.

LeBron James. Chris Paul. Dwyane Wade. Blake Griffin. Chris Bosh.

The star power on the court in Wednesday's game between the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers can only be properly harnessed on the Hollywood stage, so it's fitting that the battle will be played in Los Angeles. Grab your popcorn, find your favorite spot on the couch and clear out the evening agenda because you're about to see fireworks on the hardwood.

These two teams are offensive juggernauts. Led by a basketball magician in Paul and a rim abuser in Griffin, the Clippers have posted a blistering 105.9 offensive efficiency, which is tied for third in the league. Meanwhile, the Heat are right behind them at 104.8 points per 100 possessions, even without Wade for much of the first two weeks of the season.

But looking down from the treetops, that is where the similarities end. The Heat are title favorites right now and the Clippers are fighting to stay in the conversation. Why the separation?

In a word: defense.


To read more about how L.A.'s defense could keep it from achieving elite success this season, become an ESPN Insider.