The Los Angeles Clippers take the court for the second time this preseason on early Thursday morning, Los Angeles time, as they battle the defending NBA champion Miami Heat in the first of two games in China.
The first of those games is at MasterCard Center in Beijing, with a start of 4:30 a.m. PDT on Thursday. Chris Paul, though cleared to practice, will sit out both games in China while recovering from thumb surgery. Dwyane Wade is questionable for the Heat.
The Clippers will get an up close and personal look at LeBron James and Chris Bosh, as well as newcomers Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. Even without Paul, the Clippers will get a good litmus test against the Heat.
"The Clippers regular season offense was actually more efficient than the mighty Heat -- but their defense was much worse, so it provides a little glimpse into what will be needed in order to take the next step," wrote Steve Perrin at Clips Nation. "Of course the Heat also stepped it up in the playoffs."
Blake Griffin, who missed out on the London Olympics over the summer with a knee injury, is looking forward to the games in China.
"I’m really looking forward to playing here and playing front of the crowd and seeing what the atmosphere is like," Griffin told Eric Patten of NBA.com. "I’ve never played overseas so I’m really looking forward to the experience."
Both teams lost their preseason openers. Thursday morning's game will be televised live by NBA-TV, and then rebroadcast at 11:30 a.m. PDT.