The San Antonio Spurs (54-12) will be looking to sweep the season series face the Miami Heat (45-21) for the last time this regular season in Miami.
Currently, San Antonio has a four-game winning streak against Miami including a two-game sweep last season. The last time these two teams met, it was a 125-95 win for the Spurs over the Heat which left many questioning if Miami has what it takes to beat the elite teams in the NBA. In that game, eight Spurs scored in double figures, led by Manu Ginobili with 20 points, Matt Bonner with 18 points (6-7 3FG) and Tim Duncan posted 11 points and 14 rebounds.
Since then, Miami was able to beat the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies but a win tonight against the Spurs would speak volumes for Miami.
Speaking of the Heat loss in San Antonio, Chris Bosh hasn't forgotten about that:
"We want to redeem ourselves,'' Chris Bosh said.
"They beat the crap out of us,'' Bosh said. "And it was on (national) TV. Everyone saw it. My friends starting asking me what happened and they don't even watch basketball.
To discuss tonight's matchup, I once again turn to friend of Project Spurs, Surya Fernandez of Hot Hot Hoops. The best Heat blog on the Internet. In this Q&A, Surya talks about the Heat's crying incident, the Heat versus elite NBA teams, the Spurs huge win against the Heat in San Antonio and more.
Jeff: You know I got to ask this, the whole Miami Heat players crying fiasco. Why in the world would Spoelstra say that to the media? What's your take?
Surya: I have no idea why Spoelstra would say that. He's usually so polished with the media so it was very surprising to hear that sitting right in front of him. He said a couple of players were crying, not the whole team, but there's no explanation as to why he couldn't simply explain that they were very upset over the game and leave it at that.
The Heat finally beat an elite NBA team, the Lakers. What did they do differently in that game versus other games against other elite teams?
Well, the Heat have had solid victories against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, and Orlando Magic among others. They beat the Lakers on Christmas day as well so it wasn't a particularly surprising result. What the Heat did to turn around their recent troubles with closing out games was to put the ball in Wade's hands instead of LeBron. Chris Bosh was also noticeably aggressive and it cancelled out Pau Gasol's production. With the Lakers bigs fading down the stretch, Wade played some solid defense on Bryant who attempted and failed to take the game over.
In the few games he has played, how was Mike Bibby been for Miami?
He's been shooting better than Troy Murphy. The Heat have enough creativity and playmaking from Wade and LeBron but another deft passer and a reliable shooter from the outside has certainly come in handy against the Lakers and Grizzlies. He's not going to be the difference in getting deep into the playoffs but he may have a hand in a crucial play or two that will help get them there. Think Gary Payton in 2006.
Speaking of elite teams, the Heat were embarrassed in San Antonio. Do you think they can use anything from that game to game plan for tonight's contest?
To get some rest before the game. The Heat just weren't into that one and almost seemed like they conceded it early on a second night of a back-to-back. The Spurs quick but tidy offense absolutely shredded the lackadaisical Heat defense. Ginobili was unstoppable so Wade must put in the same effort that he did against Bryant. No matter what it will be a tough night for Mario Chalmers who has trouble staying in front of just about any NBA point guard, let alone an elite one like Parker. Mike Miller and Bibby must hit their open shots to give the Big 3 support against such a formidable opponent.
Which matchup would you tell Spurs and Heat fans to keep an eye on and what's your game prediction?
I'm looking forward to seeing Ginobili and Wade going at it. They both are so crafty getting to the rim so it'll be fun to see how they each do defensively to contain those drives. I think the Heat are improving as a team lately but I'm skeptical it will be enough against the Spurs. We'll just leave it at that.