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Game Preview #30: Miami Heat @ San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are on a pretty nice roll right now, aren't they? Well, you know what that means... absolutely nothing, if they can't beat the winning teams. How do you suppose that looks going into the playoffs in a few more months? Yeah, not so great.

Let's do this better.

Sorry if this is hackish, but I have to be awake at 6:00am today to go to work. Hopefully, they'll send me home early like they did last week, but you just never know.

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Miami Heat @ San Antonio Spurs
Where: AT&T Center - San Antonio, TX
When: December 31, 2009, 6:00 PM Spurs time
Watch: TNT


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How They Stack Up
13-5 Home 10-8
5-6 Road 6-5
102.2
Offense 97.4
96.7 Defense 96.0
48.4 FG% 45.9
38.7 3-pt% 33.0
74.5 FT% 75.6
42.5 Rebounds 40.8
14.4 TOs 12.5
8-2 Last 10 6-4
Won 3
Streak Lost 1
2nd, Southwest Position 3rd, Southeast

Country/Time Zone Game Time
FANGIO LAND
9:00 PM
West Coast
4:00 PM
Philippines 8:00 AM
Central Europe 1:00 PM
Palestine/Egypt 2:00 AM
East Coast 7:00 PM
CapHill's Frosty Hell
5:00 PM
Perth, AUS 8:00 AM
Tokyo, JP 9:00 AM
Sydney, AUS 10:00 AM

Spurs
(18-11)
Matchups

Heat
(16-13)

Tony Parker
French Superstar

Point Guard

Miami's PG battle is quite an interesting situation. Most observers thought Mario Chalmers would be the starter throughout the season, and he actually has a better stat line for the season than Arroyo, so what gives? The reality of the matter is that Spoelstra is playing mad scientist in using a two-headed point guard lineup. For the last couple of weeks since Arroyo began starting, the minutes have been split almost evenly between he and Chalmers. I'll admit to not having watched any Heat games this year, but my previous observations of Arroyo give me the impression that he starts for his defense, with Chalmers being the havoc-creator off the bench(sound familiar?).

Meanwhile, the Spurs' point guard situation is decidedly less fluid. Tony starts for his offense, and should also be given props for his defense in the last 3 games. That's right, Tony, I noticed. With that in mind, George Hill is still an excellent option off the bench, combining good man defense with his disgusting athleticism and length to a similar havoc-creating effect off the bench, but to a far lesser degree than a certain Argentine we all know and love.

Advantage: Spurs


Carlos Arroyo
Actually passes the ball to his 2-guard

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Keith Bogans
Defensive Specialist

Shooting Guard

I get the feeling Keith is facing a do-or-die game tonight in terms of his spot in the starting lineup. His effectiveness has dropped off slightly with more teams game-planning for him, but he still does a pretty great job of hounding his man. Tonight, he faces the greatest test he's had to deal with this season. Surprisingly, the formula for limiting Wade is fairly simple - keep him on the perimeter. Wade only shoots 25% from 3-point range, but that hasn't stopped him from jacking up over 3 attempts per game. What you can't do with Wade is touch him foul him on the way to the rim. Wade is third in the league in free-throw attempts per game for a reason. Keith needs to trust his teammates if Wade gets a step on him, because fouling him doesn't usually stop him from making the shot.

On our end, while don't expect Keith to do much on offense, he may have the opportunity to get some easy scores. Wade likes to play the passing lanes, to the point where he sometimes loses his man. Expect Doom to be hanging out in the corners on offense, waiting for the kickout pass. It would be oh so nice if you could bury a few of those tonight, Keith.

Advantage: Heat


Dwyane Wade
Spells his first name weirdly

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Richard Jefferson
Need U Tonight

Small Forward

Q-Rich had quite the interesting summer this year. By my count, he got traded 4 times. I hope he got lots of frequent flyer miles out of it, but he probably won't complain about ending up in Miami instead of Minnesota. He's a decent to good player, but doesn't really do anything spectacular. He can definitely hold his own if he's allowed the opportunity, though.

RJ's been on a pretty good run of games lately, and seems to be getting much more comfortable about his place on this team. The most encouraging thing I've noticed is that he's playing his man closer on defense, and in the last game, he even seemed comfortable enough with that to provide excellent help defense, and blocked a couple of shots in the process. Oh, and his explosiveness near the rim is a sight to behold. Against a smaller opponent, I expect some big-time aggressiveness out of RJ, and think that the Spurs will be looking to get him the ball on offense.

Advantage: Spurs


Quentin Richardson
City-hopping shooter

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DeJuan Blair
Rebounder

Power Forward

Beasley is one of these guys that doesn't really fit the prototype of a SF, and lacks the size to be a traditional PF. He's a very good scorer and decent rebounder, but has a tendency to be a "black hole" on offense - once the ball makes it in to him, it doesn't usually come back out. In fact, he has an assist/turnover ratio of 0.68. If you can keep him from getting a good look at the basket once he has the ball, you've pretty much stopped Miami's offense in its tracks. An easy concept, but it's a mush more difficult strategy to execute than it sounds like.

The Beast has been taking some of the pressure off of Timmy to produce points in recent games, and his improvement on the defensive end since the beginning of the season has been nothing short of amazing. This kid gets it, he really does. And he's making good on his promise to make all the other GM's regret not drafting him. You might remember that DeJuan's best game of the preseason came when he dominated the Heat, and led the Spurs to a comeback victory in Miami. If logic is to be followed, I would give Beasley the advantage, but I get the feeling DeJuan is going to do big things for us tonight.

Advantage: Tied


Michael Beasley
Scorer

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Tim Duncan
Best big man in the league

Center

JO has been having somewhat of a renaissance this season, and even though his per game stats are nowhere near the level they were at during his best seasons in Indiana, his efficiency is way up. He's shooting a career high(by FAR) percentage from the field, and his turnover rate is the lowest it's ever been. Watch out for this guy, he's definitely not done.

Speaking of not being done, Duncan is quite simply the best big man playing in the NBA. Silverandblack_davis dared to call Timmy's last matchup a tie. I will not be so foolish.

Advantage: Spurs


Jermaine O'Neal
Renaissance Man

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Manu Ginobili
Still Sporadic Brilliance

Bench & Role Players

Look, I'm going to come clean about something - I grew up in central Florida, and adopted Florida State as one of my favorite college programs during that time. Therefore, I absolutely despise the University of Florida, and that extends to its alumni as well. I've grudgingly come to terms with the Red Rocket, but I still hate that he went to school there. So, it should come as no surprise that I strongly dislike Haslem. That's not to say he's a bad player... in fact, he's one of the best bench frontcourt players in the league, right up there with Lamar Odom. Beyond Haslem, Miami's bench isn't all that impressive, although Mario Chalmers could give us fits.

Meanwhile, our bench is still the best in the league, and I don't expect that to change tonight.

Advantage: Spurs


Udonis Haslem
If you don't have anything nice to say...

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Gregg Popovich
Sarcasmosaurus

Coach

Did anyone watch Graydon from 48MoH get Pop'd the other night? Hilarious. I don't doubt Spoelstra as a coach, but the rings speak for themselves.

Advantage: Spurs


Erik Spoelstra
Hand-picked by Pat Riley
images via yahoo.com

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OTHER FACTORS

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Intangibles

The Spurs are on a roll lately, but haven't beaten a winning team this month. Until that happens, they don't get the advantage.

Advantage: Neither

Mojo

Did you see the teamwork and chemistry on display in the Spurs' last game? Meanwhile, the Heat lost a close one to the NOOCH last night.

Advantage: Spurs

Winner

Prediction: Spurs win.
But, I'm not bold enough to predict a blowout.

Keys To The Game

  • Defense - This isn't that hard. The Spurs' offense is one of the best in the league, and I don't worry about it, but we need to get some m11g stops on defense if we're going to beat the good teams.
  • Bench Play - The bench support in the last few games has been really encouraging, and we'll continue to need more of that as these every-other-day games and SEGABABAs take its toll on our players.

Strength of Schedule

This is the Spurs last chance to beat a winning team in December, with a day off since beating the Wolves, and another day off before they start a back-to-back road set in Washington and Toronto.

Miami's on a SEGABABA after suffering a close loss in New Orleans last night. They'll have tomorrow off before starting a 3-game home stand.

Last Time They Met

It's been a while since the Spurs and Heat had a regular season game, with the Spurs winning the last meeting on January 5, 2009, by a score of 91-84. There was a Manu sighting in that game, in case you don't remember:

Some Other Reading

Heat

Peninsula is Mightier - The SBN Heat blog is pretty light on audience participation, but that doesn't mean the content is bad. It's actually a really good blog.

Hot Hot Hoops - The TrueHoop affiliate for Miami. Again, light on participation, but good content. Enough metaphors and off topic-ness to make your average PtR reader feel at home.

Spurs

48 Minutes of Hell: The best TH blog around. Graydon's been doing a great job of manning the ship during the holidays, making us remember why it's the best TH blog..

Project Spurs: Lots of good folks in here. Visit, read, comment, come back. And don't miss their podcast, either.

The (sort of) Daily Twitter

George_Hill3

I Love My Fans!!! Y'all keep me wanting to get better. Thanks for the support eveyone..... http://twitpic.com/vxpta << CapHill?

manuginobili @DeJuan45 Good catch kid! Finally made it to SC's Top10 w/o bats in the play... ;-)

DeJuan45 @manuginobili lol u da man nu nu amazing pass!!!

Buncha goofballs, these guys.

You can also find all the official Spurs Sports & Entertainment Twitter accounts here: http://twitter.com/spurs/official/members

Other things of possible interest

Just in case you've been living under a rock the last couple of days:

Where to Tune In

TV

This game will be aired nationwide on TNT, which changes everything. The Spurs don't win games on TNT this year, period. OK, OK, that's just a superstition. Anyhoo, there's no local broadcast for this one in either city.

Online

As always, NBA League Pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. However, this game will NOT be broadcast there, which sucks.

Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate. In fact, nobody can stop you from googling "atdhe". You can also shoot an email to dmenendez@gmail.com for more assistance.

Spurs League Pass audio is still free this year, so check it out.

Radio

If you're in the San Antonio area and aren't near a TV, tune in to WOAI (1200 AM).