Heat (41-29) @ Spurs (59-11)
Where: AT&T Center, San Antoino, Texas
When: Wednesday, March 23rd 8:30 PM ET
Watch: FS-SUN, NBA League Pass
The Miami Heat are 12-games over .500 for the first time in the post-LeBron James era. The team will look to continue on a recent hot run tonight, however against a much tougher opponent in the San Antonio Spurs. A win tonight would be monumental for the Heat in terms of the Eastern Conference standings, confidence, and in their bid to win 50 games for the season.
The Heat are coming off a 113-99 win last night over the New Orléans Pelicans, who were playing without Anthony Davis. Goran Dragic (21), Dwyane Wade (25), Hassan Whiteside (24) all scored over 20 points for the Heat, with Amar’e Stoudemire chipping in 16 points as well.
In the month of March, the Miami Heat are 8-3, including a huge win over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.
Right before the All-Star break, San Antonio defeated Miami 119-101 in the team’s lone matchup this season on February 10th. Despite trailing all game, the Heat made the game competitive in the fourth quarter, but could not finish their comeback. The Heat have gone 12-4 since that game. This was the final game Chris Bosh had played in before his blood clot scare.
For the Spurs, they are 15-3 since the matchup with Miami, including a major victory over the Golden State Warriors that catapulted the Spurs confidence and added even more excitement about a potential Western Conference matchup between the two teams.
X-Factor: Hassan Whiteside
This may not yet be a popular sentiment with Miami Heat fans, but Hassan Whiteside has emerged as the best player on the Heat roster. In the last matchup against the Spurs, Whiteside was ejected and then later suspended one game for throwing an elbow. He however has been a much different player since that career changing moment for the 25-year old.
Since that game, Whiteside has averaged 27 minutes per game off the bench, 18.6 points, 15.5 rebounds, and 3.8 blocks per game. Whiteside’s 25.9 PER ranks 7th in the NBA, between Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis.
I don’t normally agree with Charles Barkley, but he was correct when he said the Heat would go as far as Hassan Whiteside takes them. Barkley noted that Whiteside needed to show more maturity and consistency, which he definitely has since the All-Star break and his suspension.
The Spurs don’t have a dominant big on their roster that can matchup with Whiteside. That could be the lone weakness on the Spurs the Heat could attack tonight to pull off an upset victory on the road for the team tonight.
Miami Heat offensive efficiency: 13th, 103.7 points per 100 possessions
Miami Heat defensive efficiency: 6th, 101.0 points allowed per 100 possessions
San Antonio Spurs offensive efficiency: 3rd, 108.7 points per 100 possessions
San Antonio Spurs defensive efficiency: 1st, 95.5 points allowed per 100 possessions