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L.A. Clippers host King James and Champion Miami Heat

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Right before the season started first-year Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers told the media his philosophy on the regular season is that it’s a dress rehearsal for the playoff grind.

Well, tonight's game is definitely a dress rehearsal. The Clippers (34-17) host the defending two-time NBA world champion Miami Heat in the first of a five-game home stand at Staples Center.

When talking about the Heat (34-13) and their “Big 3” the discussion begins and ends with LeBron James. “King James” – the reigning league MVP - leads Miami with 26 points, seven rebounds and seven assists per game.

Banged-up point guard Dwayne Wade is second on the team at 19 points, five rebounds and five assists per game.

The last of the Three Musketeers is center Chris Bosh who’s knocking down 17 points and seven rebounds per game.

Miami’s coming off of a 102-96 win over the Detroit Pistons. The Heat’s been cool against the Clippers at Staples Center losing their last five to Los Angeles.

The Clippers lost a heart-breaker in Denver Monday night when ex-Clipper Randy Foye worked a buzzer-beating three lifting the Nuggets over L.A., 115-113.

Los Angeles is still without point guard Chris Paul nursing a separated right shoulder. He could be ready to return to the line-up against Toronto Friday night.

In his absence, Darren Collison hasn’t filled Paul’s shoes but played his game in leading the Clippers to an 11-four record filling in for the all-star point guard. Collison is averaging 10 points, three assists, and two rebounds per contest.

The Clippers are led by all-star forward Blake Griffin averaging 23 points and 10 rebounds per game. Center DeAndre Jordan continues to play “Bill Russell-esque” pulling down a league-high 14 rebounds per game and averaging 10 points per contest.

Off the bench, Jamal Crawford is huge knocking down 18 per contest and will replace J.J. Redick in the starting line-up. Redick is out of the game with injuries to a hips and back. He should be ready Friday night against Toronto.

The Clippers lost to the Heat in Miami this past November, 102-97. Tonight’s tip-off is set for 7:30.

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