The San Antonio Spurs (9-4) look to solve their road woes (0-4) tonight as they face the Miami Heat (8-4) who are also looking to stop a losing streak, as Miami has lost three straight games and might be without one of their superstars in Dwayne Wade.
Per the Miami Herald, Wade did not practice Sunday or Monday, but Wade is still listed as probable to play in tonight’s game.
When asked about what he’ll do to prepare for LeBron James and Wade after the Spurs’ win on Sunday over Phoenix, head coach Gregg Popovich responded, “As soon as either Dwayne or LeBron get the ball, I cover my eyes,” said Popovich, “I just hope for the best.”
The Spurs might also be without the services of guard Gary Neal who left Sunday’s game in the second quarter with a right thigh contusion. After the game, Popovich commented on Neal’s early injuries in the season, “He’s just a mess right now."
Neal did make the trip to Miami but is still questionable to play tonight. If Neal is out, that means rookie Cory Joseph will be seeing some more playing time backing up Tony Parker and defending Miami’s rookie guard Norris Cole off of the bench.
Cole is having a productive season early for the Heat as he’s averaging 9.8 points and 1.3 steals per game.
As of now, the Spurs are averaging 95 points per game without injured guards Manu Ginobili and T.J. Ford. The team defense is holding their opponents to 95.2 points, 46% shooting from the field, and 35% shooting from the behind the arc in 13 games.
With Wade, the Heat have the number one scoring offense in the league at 106.2 points per game. Without Wade, the Heat would still average 98.4 points per game. Their team defense is holding their opponents to 99.3 points, 43% shooting from the field, and 38% shooting from behind the arc through 12 games.
The Spurs’ backcourt begins with starting guards Tony Parker (16 points, 7.5 assists) and rookie Kawhi Leonard (8.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.23 steals). Neal (9.1 points), Joseph, and James Anderson are the guards off of the bench.
The Heat’s backcourt consists of Mario Chalmers (11.9 points, 1.83 steals, 43% 3PT) and Wade (19.6 points, 5.4 assists, 2 steals, 1.67 blocks) starting, and Cole, James Jones (48% 3PT), and Terrel Harris coming off the bench. If Wade doesn’t play, Jones or Shane Battier will likely get the starting nod.
The Spurs’ wing position is held by starting forward Richard Jefferson (12.2 points, 51% 3PT), and Danny Green (7.3 points, 47% 3PT) off of the bench.
The Heat’s wing positions are manned by James (29.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 2 steals) starting, and Battier coming off the bench.
The Spurs frontcourt is led by starters Tim Duncan (12.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.15 blocks) and DeJuan Blair (11.3 points, 6.5 rebounds), while Tiago Splitter (7.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.15 blocks), Matt Bonner, and Malcolm Thomas are the three big men off of the bench.
The Heat’s frontcourt is led by starters Chris Bosh (19.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1 steal, 1.17 blocks) and Joel Anthony, while Udonis Haslem (8.1 points, 10.2 rebounds), Mickell Gladness, and Dexter Pittman come in off the bench.
Ginobili is out with a broken fifth metacarpal, while Ford is injured with a torn left hamstring for the Spurs. If Neal doesn’t play he’d be out with the right thigh contusion for the Spurs.
If Wade doesn’t play, his injury would be a right ankle sprain while Mike Miller is out with hernia surgery, and Eddy Curry is out with a hip flexor.
The most interesting matchup to watch is rookie Leonard defending James. Leonard has already had to defend Oklahoma’s Kevin Durant, Houston’s Kevin Martin, and multiple scorers on the Portland Trail Blazers.
If Wade does play, Green could play some heavy minutes in defending Wade alongside Leonard defending James.
On paper the spurs have no chance!
Spurs are going to face their largest challenge and I expect they once again dominate the boards, and play just fine in the front court.
Go spurs go!
The spurs is meeting one of the league's favorite. Wade is out but James and Battier more than fill the gap. The trouble with the spurs is its inability to play with big men. Bur Splitter is improving. The supporting casts have to be consistent. All eyes will be on Leonard, how he plays against James. The spurs are already short of 3 men and Anderson has to show what he has otherwise, it's d-league for him. Perhaps, Malcolm Thomas will see some minutes tonight considering that the spurs are thin on the front court. Corey Joseph played well against the Suns. He has to contend with another rookie in Cole.