#708 Miami Heatvs.#707 San Antonio Spurs
Written by Chris Kubala
NBA: Sunday, October 30, 2016, American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida, 6 pm ET
Line: San Antonio -7; Over/Under: 198
It’s an inter-conference clash in South Beach. The San Antonio Spurs are on the road as they travel to face the Miami Heat Sunday evening. San Antonio remained unbeaten after downing Sacramento 102-94 Thursday night. The Spurs played their first home game of the year Saturday night against the Pelicans. Miami took its first loss of the season, falling 97-91 at home to the Hornets Friday night. San Antonio holds a 39-18 edge in the regular season series and has won the last five meetings. That includes a 119-101 win in this building on February 9, 2016 in the most recent tilt here. The teams met in the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals, each team winning one of them.
San Antonio had a tough battle with the Kings but managed to claw out a victory on the road Thursday night. The Spurs go for a third straight road victory to open the season here. San Antonio trailed by four at the half Friday night but took command by outscoring Sacramento 23-14 in the third quarter. Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 30 points, five assists and five steals in the win. LaMarcus Aldridge added 16 points plus five boards. David Lee (five rebounds, two steals) and Dewayne Dedmon (seven rebounds, four blocks) each contributed 12 points off the bench. The bench proved to be a critical component in the game as Leonard (+4) was the only starter with a positive +/- in the game. Pau Gasol (seven points) and Tony Parker (four points, two assists, 0/6 FG) have to be better.
The Spurs currently lead the league in scoring offense with 115.5 points per game. San Antonio comes in 11th in rebounding with 47.5 boards a contest while the team is 10th in assists with 24 dimes per game. Leonard leads the team with 32.5 points, four assists and five steals per contest. Aldridge contributes 21.5 points plus a team leading 9.5 rebounds a night while Jonathon Simmons chips in 12.5 points plus three assists per game. Manu Ginobili, Lee, Dedmon, Patty Mills and Kyle Anderson all are looked at to contribute for coach Gregg Popovich’s team. The Spurs are 6th in the league by shooting 46.9 percent from the field. San Antonio is tied for 10th in three point field goals per game with nine. The Spurs are 5th in the league by knocking down a solid 42.9 percent of their long range attempts.
Miami handled Orlando on the road in their season opener but couldn’t avoid the sting of the Hornets playing at home Friday night. Playing a San Antonio team that already owns a pair of road victories isn’t exactly a tonic for what ails you either. The Heat played well in the first half, leading by 11 at intermission. That lead ballooned to 19 in the third quarter but the wheels fell off: after holding a 19 point lead early in the third quarter (65-46), Miami was outscored 51-26 the rest of the way. The Heat still led by four entering the fourth quarter but was outscored 24-14. Hassan Whiteside led the way with 20 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks for Miami. Goran Dragic chipped in 14 points plus nine assists while three other Heat players hit double figures as well.
The Heat has had offensive struggles early this season, ranking tied for 23rd with 99.5 points per game. Miami has been lights out on the glass as they are tied for 4th with 52 boards per game. The Heat is tied for 12th in assists with 23 per contest. Whiteside leads the team with 19 points, 14.5 rebounds and three blocks per game. Dragic contributes 15 points, five boards and 7.5 assists per game. Tyler Johnson is adding 13.5 points plus six boards a game off the bench while Justise Winslow (12.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists) and Dion Waiters (11 points, 6.5 rebounds) are chipping in as well. Miami has gone with a short rotation thus far, which means Willie Reed, Rodney McGruder, Luke Babbitt and James Johnson have to contribute when pushed into playing time. Miami is tied for 19th in field goal percentage as they shoot 43.2 percent as a team. The Heat stands tied for 10th with nine three pointers a night and 10th in three point shooting at 36 percent.
The Spurs may have a bit of fatigue after playing Saturday night at home then hopping a flight to South Beach. Popovich tends to be conservative with his veterans in situations like this, which means you might see a lighter workload for his aging stars. Miami has no real star power to call on at this point. Factor that in with a thin rotation and the Heat project to be in trouble here. Look for San Antonio to get the upper hand on Miami in this one and get the victory.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.