LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 30: Chris Paul #3 and Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers confer during hte game with the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center on December 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Bulls won 114-101. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
The Clippers will have their hands full against the Heat on Wednesday.
For all the hype surrounding the Los Angeles Clippers -- aka Lob City -- their start to the 2011-12 NBA season has not really been that impressive. Heading into Wednesday's home matchup with the Southeast Division-leading Miami Heat, they will get one of their bigger tests of the early season.
So far, the Clippers have yet to really show much of the promise that had some picking them as NBA Finals contenders after the acquisition of Chris Paul. Instead, they've looked rather ordinary -- which, to be fair, a step up from historical norms. The Clippers failed their first big tests, losing by an average of 19.0 points in back-to-back games to the San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls. The defense has been the big culprit in their losses, as opponents have averaged 111.3 points per game in those games. The Clippers' rebounding has also been suspect, as they have grabbed just 35.9 per game and rank 30th in the league in that category.
Even Paul and Blake Griffin haven't been all that great so far. Griffin's scoring is up by a little more than a point over last year (23.7) but he's grabbing 1.6 fewer rebounds per game. Paul is scoring 4.0 less points (14.6) than his career average and he's averaging 1.4 fewer assists (8.4) than he did a year ago.
Obviously, it's still very early, but they will both be key if they are to knock of a Heat team has looked like one of the top teams in the league so far. At 8-2, only two teams have more wins and no one has fewer losses. They are leading the league in scoring (108.1 points per game) and LeBron James is off to one of the best starts of his career. James is currently averaging 29.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game.
Date/time: Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. EST
Place: Staples Center, Los Angeles