Spurs at Heat Give and Go Preview

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The Spurs finally wind down their current six game road trip with just another ho-hum game against the Miami Heat. Alright alright, a game against the Heat is anything but ho-hum. San Antonio looks to sweep its longest road swing of the season thus far, and will attempt to do so on national television against the defending champs.

The Spurs’ core guys didn’t expend too much energy in last night’s blowout win over the Orlando Magic, so I would expect everybody of note to play. At the same time, there’s a significant chance Pop pulls the plug early if it looks like things might get out of hand. Saturday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies is far more important than tonight’s game against the Heat.

For a preview of today’s game, I invited Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com’s Heat Index to chat about the Spurs-Heat Finals that never was, the “position-less basketball” concept, and Dwyane Wade’s health.

[Update: Apparently, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Danny Green will not play.]

Andrew McNeill, 48 Minutes of Hell: So Spurs-Heat.

Tom Haberstroh, Heat Index: Yes, always giddy for Spurs-Heat.

AM: Kawhi Leonard won’t be around. Nor will Stephen Jackson. Would Spoelstra be so kind as to sit LeBron James for a night? I’m not sure he’s getting enough rest right now.

TH: He can never get LeBron James to sit so, fat chance. I wouldn’t be so sure that Kawhi Leonard is the only key cog sitting out. You think Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will play on the back-to-back? Tough game as it. Seems like a classic Pop sit ‘em night.

AM: Totally agree. It has all the makings of a “F- the national TV audience” moment from Pop. Second night of a back-to-back, fourth game in five nights. And they’ve got the Grizzlies on Saturday night. I’m thinking LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh sit out the second half completely.

Hopefully that means we get Jorts-Bonner.

TH: Dwyane Wade could use the night off. He’s been a real liability defensively this season because of his foot injury and I cringe every time he misses a layup and tip-toes back on defense as everyone sprints down the floor. It’s a myth that the Heat’s defensive issues start underneath; they start with Wade.

AM: Is the foot a reason for that vicious block he received from Eric Bledsoe? Is was that just because Bledsoe is a freak of nature?

TH: He definitely got Bleds0wn3d, but keep in mind that he took off on his left foot — his bad foot — and although he got up, he took off way too early and I’m not even sure he would’ve successfully dunked the ball anyway. He’s one of the most chronic Spriters in the game.

The Heat’s defensive woes have mostly been on the perimeter where teams have rained from downtown. Every team seems to have the hot hand against the Heat this season. Ball movement and beyond the arc bombers have killed the Heat. And guess who’s coming up? Yup, a team that runs a clinic in both areas.

AM: Assuming the Spurs field a regular lineup (far from a given), that would be a good matchup for the Spurs. I think that’s part of the reason people felt that if the Spurs could’ve gotten past the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, they could’ve beat the Heat. I’m not so sure they could’ve handled Miami’s speed, though? What’s your ready on the Finals that never happened?

TH: Is it a sin to say I would’ve rather watched Spurs-Heat than OKC-Heat? I don’t know, it’s close, but the basketball purist in me would have loved to see Pop vs. LeBron. Because that’s what it comes down to, right? Could the undisputed best coach in the game outsmart the unquestioned best player in the game? Dwyane and Manu Euro-step competitions breaking out midgame would’ve been enthralling as well.

AM: We’ve seen Spurs vs. LeBron before in the Finals, but that Cavs team was nothing compared to the Heat. And LeBron hadn’t become the outside shooter that he is now. Lots of things that would’ve been interesting to see in that series.

TH: What’s it like to watch Tim Duncan at 36 drop 18 and 10 every night? As a Wake alum, I’m admittedly biased sometimes when talking about Duncan, but how does he keep doing it?

AM: Honestly, I feel bad. I feel spoiled, like I’m not appreciating it enough. He makes it seem so easy because he’s so good and so smart and has so many reps under his belt. But it’s not. There’s a reason so few big men are as effective as him from the low block, it’s not easy to be good from that spot. But there he is, game after game, getting it done. Then you throw in the fact that he developed a excellent, yet fundamentally ugly (oh the irony) jumpshot, and you realize why he’s a once in a generation player. And that’s not even going into the defense or rebounding.

TH: Chris Bosh isn’t in the same realm as Tim Duncan, but I always love to watch a big man who can play inside out and make a fool out of their opponent with skill. Bosh has been the biggest beneficiary of the Heat’s small-ball and that rightish top of the key jumper is almost Duncan-esque/Dirk-esque in its efficiency. The dude can shoot and defenders who don’t study up on Bosh get roasted every night. I don’t think Duncan will fall victim though, too smart.

AM: Speaking of the Heat going small, a lot was made of this “position-less basketball” the Heat were using. Is this still a thing people are talking about? Is it as simple as LeBron playing the 4? Haven’t we been talking about this online for a couple of years?

TH: I think the concept has been talked about for years and it’s vaguely similar to the Triangle in execution, so it’s not necessarily revolutionary. But I will say that it’s a work in progress on the defensive end of the floor. LeBron doesn’t guard 4s that often (Battier does and he’ll be out most likely Thursday). Also, you’ll start seeing Bosh move into the corners to hit 3s which will become part of the “postion-less” fabric so there’s still some new tweaks to be made. Still, though, when they throw Ray Allen out there with Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade, the spacing is so, so crazy. Big question though: Can they pick it up defensively?

AM: Outside of LeBron, Wade and Bosh, who has stepped up or broken out in this early season?

TH: Ray Allen, for sure. He’s stood out on both ends of the floor, but in opposite directions. Watching the synergy between he and LeBron, it seems like they’ve been playing next to each other for five years already. LeBron always seems to know exactly where Allen is and it’s a terrifying proposition for the defense when LeBron drives and Allen slides to the corner. It reminds me of one of my favorites: Would you rather take a bat to the knee or to the shin?

AM: The knee, definitely. Breaking a shin is one of my greatest fears in life. Seems like terrible pain and the thought of bone sticking out of my skin terrifies me.

Last thing before I let you go. I need one random prediction for Thursday night’s game. Nothing to do with the final score.

TH: The Heat will make more corner 3s than the Spurs. The student becomes the teacher.

AM: Oh no you didn’t.

  • assistman

    lol

  • Justafan

    Pop has already sent Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, and Green home, according to Buck Harwey. Is this big slap in the face to Stern and common NBA fan?

  • http://twitter.com/dsportymouth The Sporty Mouth

    Duncan is playing well and would expect the Spurs handle their business against the Heat. A team that can post up well gives Miami problems.

  • SCOLFIELD

    EI….MIAMI HEAT YOU GUYS DESERVE TO DO THAT WHEN YOU GUYS FACE THEM IN SAN ANTONIO……..LET BOSH,WADE, LBJ, RAY TO STAY HOME…..!!!! STUPID POP…….SORRY BUT JUST MAD

  • RayM

    The rest of the players better be ready to play heavy minutes tonight.