The Miami Heat started a six-game road trip of the NBA‘s Western Conference with a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, 116-112. Despite no Chris Paul for the duel, the Clippers were able to keep pace with the defending champions thanks to a monster game from Blake Griffin and his sidekick, DeAndre Jordan.
Griffin went wild in the paint, going 16-for-34 from the field and 10-of-17 from the free throw line for a total of 43 points. Him and Jordan both had double-doubles and combined for 59 points and and 31 rebounds. Chris Bosh, Chris Andersen and Greg Oden combined for only 29 points and 18 rebounds while the Clippers outrebounded the Heat 52-31. It’s amazing that Miami was able to win based on the fact that Jordan and Griffin grabbed the same number of boards as the entire Miami roster combined.
Obviously the Heat should be thanking LeBron James, who had 31 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds. He saved Miami in a game that they should have lost, but alarms should still be going off for Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley because Miami’s frontcourt is a disaster. With Joel Anthony traded away and Andrew Bynum now an Indiana Pacer, the Heat can only hope that Oden continues to make positive strides.
The problem with the Miami post game isn’t so much the offensive side of the ball. Both Bosh and Andersen had decent games as each missed double-doubles by a couple rebounds. The problem lies on the defensive end where Griffin dropped 43 and the Clippers grabbed 21 offensive rebounds as a team. The Miami big men have seen similar acts such as the combo of Roy Hibbert and David West, Marc Gasol and Zack Randolph or Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. Aggressive, strong big men have caused major issues for the Heat post players.
If Miami can’t find a way to better rebound the basketball and defend the paint, they will falter in their attempt to win a third straight championship. James can only save the Heat from its interior woes so many times. Sooner or later, these problems are going to bite Riley’s team right in the rear-end. So they can either wait and see what happens with Oden or they can make a move. There are some decent free agents out there who could help rebound such as Chris Wilcox, Louis Amundson and Jason Collins. All three could be landed dirt cheap. The Heat and Riley are running out of time to make any changes, so speak now or forever hold your peace because the playoffs and 2014 free agency are creeping just around the bend.
Shane Phillips is an NBA Writer for RantSports.com. You can follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneRantNBA, “Like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also email Shane at ShaneRantNBA@gmail.com.