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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat

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The Spurs will look to avoid getting burnt by a second Eastern Conference team in a row when they host the resilient Miami Heat on Wednesday.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
March 23, 2016, 7:30 p.m. Spurs Time
TV: FSSW Radio: WOAI 1200AM

There are jokes about older folks retiring in Miami and then there's the current starting lineup for the 2015-16 Heat, which is enjoying a Last Vegas-style romp towards the postseason.

Dwyane Wade, Amar'e Stoudemire, Luol Deng, Joe Johnson and Goran Dragic have comprised an unlikely starting unit (prompted by Chris Bosh's health issues and Hassan Whiteside's move to the bench) that has, at least for the time being, pushed the Heat to the top half of the highly competitive Eastern Conference.

On Sunday the Heat steamrolled the first-seeded Cavaliers, 122-101, continuing their home domination since LeBron defected back to the Cleve. They've maintained a top-5-ish defense through a year of injury and roster turnover and have done so with a number of guys who haven't been known for their play on that end of the floor throughout their careers.

The team's resilience likely has something to do with Pat Riley's adoption of some South Florida voodoo magic, but more to do with the way coach Erik Spoelstra has brilliantly adapted his roster to suit different styles. Zach Lowe's latest essential read touches on one five-man group -- Dragic, Deng, Whiteside and rookies Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow -- that blends length on the wings with Whiteside's presence down low, a combination that should give the Spurs some trouble.

Whiteside's relegation to the bench has been more of a rotation thing than demotion, as he's still playing big minutes and closing out the first half with the starters. His presence on the court in plus-minus doesn't quite reflect his staggering counting stats (nearly 12 boards and four blocks per), but he's still a singular talent in following the ball and protecting the rim. It'll be interesting to see which team most wants to bet on his upside over his maturity issues this summer -- remember he got ejected the last time the Spurs and Heat met in what was ultimately a decisive moment in SA's 18-point win in South Beach.

Still, he'll be a handful for the Spurs bigs, and we'll see how Pop decides to match up with him. Timmy sat out the last time the two teams played, but I imagine he and David West will split time on him and keep him in motion (and away from the rim) as much as possible on offense. It's also worth noting that Boban Marjanovic (and Jonathon Simmons) was been recalled from Austin.

San Antonio was snakebitten in Charlotte after pulling away early, something Miami can relate to having coughed up a 15-point lead to the Hornets in a loss on Friday. The odds of a bounce-back win should be spurred a bit by getting the Heat on a SEGABABA (they played in New Orleans last night) -- not to mention the fact that the AT&T Center has the same effect on the silver and black that the Earth's yellow sun does to Kal-El.

***Update: Luol Deng (thigh bruise) will not play tonight.***

Matchup to watch: Bench units. The Spurs bench got toasted by Charlotte's, thanks largely to an inability to execute and match up against the slippery Jeremy Lin. The Heat's reserves have the league's best shot-blocker and a number of talented guys that can run the floor and hit from three. San Antonio's savvy reserves will have to play disciplined transition D and knock down a shot or three.

San Antonio Spurs: 59-11

Miami Heat: 40-29

March 23, 2016

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

7:30 pm, CDT

TV: FSSW

Starters

Tony Parker

PG

Goran Dragic

Danny Green

SG

Dwyane Wade

Kawhi Leonard

SF

Joe Johnson

LaMarcus Aldridge

PF

Luol Deng

Tim Duncan

C

Amar'e Stoudemire


Game prediction: Spurs by 10.

For the Heat fans' perspective, visit Hot Hot Hoops.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher.