Miami Heat renew rivalry with San Antonio Spurs Tuesday


Game preview for the Miami Heat vs the San Antonio Spurs

Heat (29-23) vs Spurs (43-8)
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena – Miami, FL
When: Tuesday, February 9, 2016, 8:00 PM ET

The Miami Heat look to finish the first half of the season strong, which they can do by getting their 30th win of the season on Tuesday night. Bad news is that they have to go toe-to-toe with the Imperial Star Destroyer that are the San Antonio Spurs to get there.

The Heat are coming off a tough home loss on Sunday to the Los Angeles Clippers and now sit tied for first in the Southeast Division with the Atlanta Hawks, as well as tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference. Miami didn’t come away from the Clippers game completely healthy, as Hassan Whiteside injured his ankle and is questionable for Tuesday’s game, while Luol Deng is also questionable as he is battling an illness. Also of note, Josh McRoberts missed his second consecutive game because he is Josh McRoberts.

As for the Spurs, they are trying to keep pace with the Golden State Warriors atop the Western Conference, which is like a Porsche trying to keep up with a McLaren. They also come into Tuesday’s game banged up, as Tim Duncan (knee) and Manu Ginóbili (balls) will miss the game. The Spurs are second in the West, and have a comfortable lead in the Southwest Division.

Matchup to Watch: Dwyane Wade vs. Kawhi Leonard

Whether it should or shouldn’t, the Heat’s offense primarily runs through Wade, judged by his team leading 31.7% usage rate. With that in mind, he’s going to draw the attention of Leonard, who is basically like the Spurs getting a hold of the Infinity Gauntlet and laying waste to everything they see. Leonard, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is holding his defensive assignment to 5.1% less than what they usually shoot from the field, and 6.5% less on two-point attempts. If the Heat are going to have any success, they’re going to have to free Wade from Leonard’s grasp.


X-Factor: Goran Dragic

Let someone else take the keys. To make life easier for Wade, Dragic is going to have to be more assertive within the offense. For as much as some might complain about Wade leading the offense – yours truly, included – you can’t say that he hasn’t tried to give Dragic the chance to take control, as the majority of Wade’s passes go to him. But Dragic tends to either give it back, or stay out of the fray and let Wade take the reins. The Heat are 12-5 when Wade has a usage rate under 30%, but that’s not entirely his fault. Miami works better when there’s balance, and if there were ever a game for Dragic to break out, it might be this one.


Key Stats: 12.6%
Opponents shoot 3.2% better when being guarded by Tony Parker. More interesting, opponents shoot 12.6% better against him inside 6 feet from the basket, which is a major portion of Dragic’s game. Are we in line for The Goran Dragic Game? If the Heat are going to have any chance winning this game, Dragic has to be front and center for them.