After a very encouraging drubbing at the hands of the Magic to open up the preseason, the Spurs travel to Miami for the second of the five exhibition games they’ll play this year. With just two days and one practice between games that don’t matter, it’s fair to expect a handful of veterans to sit this one out, but that’s no reason to not get excited. It’s still Spurs basketball!
San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat
October 8, 2019 | 6:30 PM CT
Watch: KSSUN / League Pass | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: none (fingers crossed emoji)
Heat Injuries: James Johnson (conditioning — probable), Kelly Olynyk (knee — out)
The game within the game
While a normal 48 minute contest will be played, the Spurs won’t much care about the rhythm and flow of the game at hand. What will matter is the groups of players on the floor: how they fit, how they play off each other, and how their strengths and weakness align.
It’s very likely that a small handful of the team’s rotation players will sit out again, affording an opportunity for the team’s rookies and camp invitees to see the floor much more than otherwise possible, just as in the first game. The results aren’t important, but how the team plays and what they choose to do should provide some insight into what they want to look like in November.
Playing small, playing big or both
The Spurs started Saturday night’s game against the Magic with both LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl, but that first 6 minute stint was the only stretch the two shared the floor. At the same time, they went small on the wing, with Lonnie Walker IV playing next to Dejounte Murray and Bryn Forbes, which, with DeMar DeRozan, Marco Belinelli and DeMarre Carroll sitting out, may have had as much to do with necessity as anything else.
Still, Lonnie more than held his own, while the LaMarcus-Jakob pairing was exactly how you remember it: imposing, but constrained. Whether the Spurs continue to look at that particular combination and how they choose to weigh the lineups in terms of big and small ball will be fascinating.
Roles and usage
With so many guards and small wings, the Spurs appear to be heading for a traffic jam. There’s only so much playing time and so many shots to be distributed. While there’s basically no chance that will cause discord on this team, it’s just a simple fact that there are more players who are good enough to warrant minutes than there are minutes to be had.
Against the Magic, the Spurs staggered Dejounte and Derrick White with Bryn lining up next to both and looking very comfortable at the 2-guard spot. It would be almost seamless to slide Patty in behind Bryn to keep a a shooter on the floor, but in that case, how Lonnie fits into the rotation with both DeMar and DeMarre in the lineup as well will be an interesting question.
If the Spurs continue that staggering as they run through different lineup combinations in this game, it’ll be a good indicator of how they intend to approach building out the rotation. Of course, it’s also just the first two games of preseason, so maybe none of that means anything at all.
The revamped Miami Heat
Tuesday night will be the first look at this year’s Heat, although they did hold their Red, White and Pink scrimmage on Sunday evening. With newly acquired Jimmy Butler leading the way, the Heat also now have Meyers Leonard as a result of the Hassan Whiteside trade, and Keldon Johnson’s Kentucky teammate Tyler Herro, who was selected with the 13th pick in this year’s draft.
Aside from offloading Whiteside and upgrading Josh Richardson into Butler, the Heat also have a potential point guard competition brewing, as they work to determine how best to utilize both Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow. Bam Adebayo will take over duties as the starting center, while Kelly Olynyk, Johnson and Dion Waiters could all slide into the starting lineup as well.
Like the Magic, the Heat appear poised to field a fantastic defense with speed and length all over the floor, meaning it should be another good matchup for the silver and black.
For the Heat fans’ perspective, please visit Hot Hot Hoops.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed if you don’t have league pass or a radio around.