Miami HEAT at San Antonio Spurs Game Preview

Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon

The Miami HEAT face the San Antonio Spurs Sunday night at AT&T Center. The game is presented by Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. The HEAT fell to the Spurs 117-105 in their last meeting on Dec. 6. Tip-off is set for 5:00 PM, and television coverage is on FOX Sports Sun. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.

1: After about a week of training camp, what were your main takeaways?

Couper Moorhead: Everyone on this team is very comfortable with one another. That’s to be expected given that most of these players have been together for a few years now, but it’s still noteworthy that this was one of the most relaxed, and relatively quiet, training camps in the team’s recent history. There were players who stood out in one way or another, in particular Justise Winslow – coming into camp with a more clearly defined role than he probably ever has – and Hassan Whiteside looking healthy after dealing with some knee issues a season ago. 

With so much recorded history on this group, there wasn’t going to be much to learn from this group until they get back on the court together. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Joe Beguiristain: With plenty of returning players on the team, this year’s camp has been all about fast tracking and getting ready for the grind that is the regular season. But first, the HEAT will have six preseason games to fine tune things and work out the kinks before the opener on Oct. 17.

By all accounts, both Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo had a strong week of work at FAU, and that rang true in the Red, White & Pink Game on Saturday. Winslow initiated offense for Miami and kept the ball moving, while Adebayo played stout defense, absorbed contact inside and finished plays at the bucket.

It’ll be fun to see those guys in action against the Spurs on Sunday night.

Erik Spoelstra2: What does Erik Spoelstra typically use his preseason slate for?

Couper: The same as any other team, for the most part. Even though we just finished talking about how quiet camp was and that this team has been together for some time now, there are still rotational questions for Spoelstra to sort out over the next couple of weeks, particularly with Dion Waiters and James Johnson sitting out. Getting actual answers to those questions isn’t as much of a pressing issue as it might seem, but come Game 1 of the regular season the team still needs to field a group of starters and have a plan for who comes off the bench first even if Spoelstra tends to use the first month or so of the season to experiment with different groups. Today marks the beginning of a process that doesn’t end when the preseason does.

Joe: You should know by now that nothing is set in stone when it comes to Erik Spoelstra’s rotations. As a result, you should expect to see a lot of tinkering and different lineups throughout the preseason.

And as Coup mentioned above, there are still some spots to figure out since the HEAT have a bunch of highly capable wing players. Will Tyler Johnson start at shooting guard after doing so 44 times last season (including the playoffs) or will he come off the bench like before in order for Josh Richardson to slide to the two and Rodney McGruder to get the nod at small forward? What about Dwyane Wade starting at the two with J. Rich at the three? Those kinds of questions will be answered in the coming weeks, but again, don’t get too comfortable with any one lineup.

3: What will you be watching for in the team’s first time out?

Couper: Who plays, and where. Of course keeping an eye on players showcasing any new skills, like Josh Richardson with his driving scoop shot a season ago, is a priority, but let’s see what Spoelstra tries first. Derrick Jones Jr. spent some time playing, and defending, power forwards during Saturday’s public scrimmage, and if he continues to see time at that spot with Johnson not playing it could be a preview of how Spoelstra intends to use him.

Fortunately, the San Antonio Spurs are a perfect team to play early on because they will, given their attention to detail, show you exactly where your team needs some work. 

Joe: I’ll be watching for how the guys respond to a different team on the other side. All week, Miami has exclusively played against each other, so there’s a certain familiarity with what’s coming and what’s going to be run. As such, seeing different looks should help the squad improve.

In addition to that and what I mentioned in my second response about who gets time where, I’m also interested in seeing how the young guys look. Duncan Robinson was extremely comfortable in the Red, White & Pink Game and scored 16 points, but I'm eager to see more of what Yante Maten, Malik Newman and Marcus Lee can bring to the table.

INJURY UPDATE:

• Bam Adebayo (Right AC Joint Sprain) – Out

• Wayne Ellington (Left Ankle Soreness) – Out

• James Johnson (Sports Hernia Surgery) – Out

• Josh Richardson (Left Thigh Contusion) – Out

• Dion Waiters (Left Ankle Surgery) – Out

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