The Spurs return to San Antonio tonight to take on the Miami Heat in the two teams’ first matchup of the season. Coming off a pair of solid road wins, the Silver and Black will be looking to continue those winning ways at home against a talented Heat squad fighting their way through the bumps and bruises of this compressed season.
Both teams are currently set to compete in their respective conferences’ play-in games, but find themselves on opposite ends of the seeding. The Spurs have fallen to 10th in the West and are lucky to have a 3.5 game cushion over the 11th seeded Pelicans. The Heat, on the other hand, are at 7th in the East and just 1 game behind the 6th placed Knicks.
San Antonio Spurs (28-28) vs Miami Heat (30-28)
April 21, 2021 | 7:30 PM CST
Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Trey Lyles (Out — Ankle)
Pacers Injuries: Victor Oladipo (Out — Knee), Bam Adebayo (Day to day — Knee), Jimmy Butler (Day to day — Ankle), Tyler Herro (Day to day — Foot)
Statistically, the two teams share a lot of similarities. Both sit near .500 with net ratings to match - the Heat are -0.9 and the Spurs are +0.7, per Cleaning the Glass - largely thanks to their top 10 defenses and sub-par offenses. Neither team gets to the rim very often, but the rest of their shot distribution is very different. The Heat take over 40% of their attempts from behind the arc, 6th most in the league, compared to about 30% for the Spurs, which is the lowest in the NBA. One other area to watch is turnovers. The Heat generate the 2nd most turnovers in the league while the Spurs protect the ball better than anyone.
The Spurs are on track for their first losing record at home since 1996-97, when they won just 12 games in San Antonio. They’ve already matched that total this season, but already have 18 losses at the AT&T center with just 6 more home contests to go. They’ll have to win all 6 of those games to get back to .500, and its definitely not going to be a cake walk. After the Heat, the rest of their home games are against the Pistons, 76ers, Bucks and Suns (x2).
There are no guarantees in the NBA, as a depleted Spurs squad showed against the Suns on Saturday, but after the Heat’s top three scorers missed their Monday night game against the Rockets, its fair to wonder what version of the team will take the floor in San Antonio. Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro are all listed as day-to-day, though, so it seems unlikely that all three would miss another game. Even if they do, Kendrick Nunn dropped a 30-piece on the Rockets in that contest as the Heat blew out their last-placed hosts.
The Spurs have gotten game-changing contributions from up and down the lineup in their last two wins. In their short-handed victory over the Suns, Rudy Gay led the way with 19 points but got a lot of help, most surprisingly, perhaps, from Drew Eubanks’ 13 point, 13 rebound double-double and a new career high of 18 points from Devin Vassell. On Monday night, with the rest of the team struggling to find their range, Derrick White knocked down 6 of his 11 threes en route to a game high 25 points while Jakob Poeltl managed to double his average with 16 points of his own and Drew Eubanks grabbed another 13 boards. Depth has long been one the Spurs’ most significant advantages, and while they’ve shied away from employing all of that depth with as much regularity this season, there’s still more than enough talent all the way down the lineup to swing games.
For the Heat fans’ perspective, 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.