In a rematch of last year's NBA Finals, the Miami Heat (31-12) take on the San Antonio Spurs (33-10) at the AmericanAirlines Arena. This game marks the first time these two teams have met since Game 7 of last year's Finals, which, as you may recall, ended in a 95-88 Heat victory.
The Spurs remain one of the most consistent teams in the league - they've yet to lose back to back games this season. They rank 3rd in the NBA in offensive efficiency, just behind Portland and the Heat, who come in at #1 and #2, respectively. In addition to their excellence on offense, they rank #4 in defensive efficiency, behind just Indiana, Chicago and OKC. For comparison's sake, those are the exact same ranks they achieved last season.
In typical Spurs fashion, their attack doesn't focus on one player. They've achieved those excellent marks on the offensive end while not having a single player ranked in the top 20 of PER. They do, however, have three players in the top 35 (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili). Five players average in double figures, with three more players averaging at least eight points a game. To call it a balanced attack would be an understatement.
For the Heat to win this game, they're going to need to keep their rotations crisp for the full 48 minutes. The Spurs lead the league in assist ratio, averaging nearly 1 assist every 5 possessions, which shows just how well they can move the ball to get easy shots. The Heat have been able to get away with lackluster defense in four of their last five games, but that won't fly against the Spurs. Fortunately, the Heat tend to play to the level of their competition, so I would expect them to bring their A game.
While the game itself doesn't have any long-term meaning, I'm particularly interested to see how Greg Oden reacts to the Spurs ball movement. If there's one knock on Oden so far, it's that he's been fouling a little too much, which is probably because he's still having trouble moving laterally. When a team moves the ball as well as the Spurs do, it requires a lot of rotating on defense, so I want to see how Oden handles that responsibility in what I'm assuming will be about 10 minutes of work.
Spurs' starting small forward Kawhi Leonard is out for the next 3-4 weeks, and as such, will not be playing against the Heat. It remains to be seen whether or not Dwyane Wade, who has missed the last four games, will play, but he did practice on Saturday, so if I had to guess, I'd say he will be in the lineup come game time.
The game tips off at 1:00 and can be seen on ABC.
For more on the Spurs, check out Pounding The Rock.
Sunday, Jan 26, 2014, 1:00 PM EST