What: When the Miami Heat take on the San Antonio Spurs in the second and final regular season encounter between the two teams, there will be much to watch out for as this could well be the preview of the 2013 NBA Finals. Miami’s winning streak of 27 games may have ended at the hands of the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night, but they still remain the team to beat. And, in this form, there are few teams in the league who can match up to them. But San Antonio does have the second best record in the league and are the current favourites to represent the West against the Heat in the final series of the postseason.
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AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas. As of March 28, Miami is 24-12 in road games, the best winning percentage away from home in the league. San Antonio, meanwhile, is 31-4 at home, which makes them one of only three teams (Miami and Denver being the other two) to have dropped less than five games on their home-court this season.
What happened last time: Gregg Popovich sat out Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green for the game in Miami on Nov. 29, which invited the ire of NBA commissioner, David Stern, who fined the Spurs franchise USD 250,000. However, despite their stars not playing, San Antonio led this game 98-93 late into the fourth quarter before Miami regained control with a 7-0 run and scored 20 of the game's final 28 points to eke out a narrow 105-100
The Heat will look to outrun the Spurs. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will defend relentlessly and hope to make a living off steals and fast-break points. Also, anytime the Spurs look to double either of James or Wade, any one of Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Mike Miller or Shane Battier could hurt them from behind the three-point line.
San Antonio’s strengths:
A veteran coach, a trio of superstar veterans who know what it takes to win in this league and a deep bench. Proof of San Antonio’s quality is that they figure in the top 10 teams in offensive rating and are among the top five teams in defensive rating. Add to that a raucous crowd at the AT&T center and Miami will have its hands full on Sunday evening when it visits San Antonio.
If San Antonio has no injury worries and all three of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili play, I would have to go with the Spurs. They have the more well-rounded team and play deep. They are equally proficient at both ends of the floor and have a couple of players in Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson who could make LeBron less effective. Also, the physical and emotional toll of Miami’s 27-game winning streak could cause the Heat to play with lesser intensity than usual. Should be a super game, nonetheless.
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