The Miami Heat have experienced a slight hiccup since blowing the doors off the Spurs in the 2nd half of their match-up last week in San Antonio. The defending Eastern Conference champions have gone 1-2 over the last week, including a 15-point loss on the road to the Atlanta Hawks and a split at home against the Chicago Bulls. They were short-handed in the loss to Chicago, missing most of their best 3-point shooting and while shooting guard Duncan Robinson played nearly 27 minutes, he went just 1/7 and left in the second half due to an apparent illness.
Much like the Spurs, Miami still has a lot to play for. At 32-30, they are currently the 7th seed in the East, yet are just 2 games back in the loss column (at the time of writing!) behind the 4th seeded Knicks. Like most teams, Miami would certainly prefer home court advantage in the first round to having to play in the play-in tournament. Coming off a loss to a mediocre Bulls team, the Spurs should expect to see a motivated squad tonight when they clash on South Beach.
San Antonio Spurs (31-29) at Miami Heat (32-30)
April 28, 20201 | 7:00 CT
Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Derrick White (ankle - OUT), Trey Lyles (ankle - OUT)
Heat Injuries: Kendrick Nunn (neck - day to day), Andre Iguodala (day to day), Tyler Herro (foot - day to day), Duncan Robinson (illness - day to day), Victor Oladipo (knee - OUT)
What to watch for
- The Spurs, who are coming off a game in which they scored 146 points, were held to just 87 points in the loss to Miami last week at the AT&T Center. Miami, which boasts the 6th best defensive rating in the league (110.2), held the Spurs to 40% shooting for the game, but they did their real damage defensively in the 2nd half. Miami kicked up the defense a notch after going into the half down 2, holding the Spurs to just 29% shooting and allowing them to score a measly 34 points the rest of the way, while putting up 107 themselves in the process.
- Bam Adebayo is having a career year in nearly every single offensive statistic there is, but it’s his defense that has set him apart. Though just 6’9”, Adebayo boasts an impressive 7’1” wingspan that aids him in guarding everyone from perimeter players to big guys down low. According to an impressive graphic from Miami’s social media team in their attempt to push him for the Defensive Player of the Year award, Adebayo has switched on more pick and rolls than any other player this season and has been extremely effective at it, as Miami allows just .92 points per possession when Bam is involved in a switch. To truly appreciate his abilities on that end of the court, check out how well he played Kyrie Irving in Miami’s win over Brooklyn earlier this month:
- It’s been a rough year for Derrick White, who looked to finally be coming along after a variety of injuries and ailments have limited him to just 36 contests this season, as he deals with this latest setback, an ankle injury sustained in the 2nd half of the win over Washington. April was White’s best month of the season, putting up 18-3-4 a night with a shooting line of 44-36-87, all while playing the active defense he’s become known for. With White out for the foreseeable future, Lonnie Walker IV may once again get an opportunity in the starting line-up.
- In Jimmy Butler, the Miami Heat have their own star player that is averse to the 3 pointer. Butler, who shot a respectable 37% from the field on 3 attempts per game not terribly long ago, is averaging just 2 attempts from 3 a game for the Heat. Like the Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan, Butler prefers to do much of his work inside the line while also playing the role of playmaker for the rest of his teammates. Butler is averaging a career-high 7.3 assists per game against just 2.2 turnovers per game.
For the Heat fan’s perspective, please visit Hot Hot Hoops.
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