The San Antonio Spurs kept things rolling in their first game back from the All-Star Break as they weathered double-overtime versus the Washington Wizards on Friday night. Despite notching a much-needed victory on their trek towards the play-in tournament, the good guys put a lot of wear and tear on their legs before a demanding SEGABABA.
The Silver and Black must now square off against the surging Miami Heat as they look to ensure an above .500 finish on the Rodeo Road Trip. Head coach Erik Spoelstra has conducted an injury-riddled roster to first-place in the Eastern Conference despite the context of this strange season, but he’ll have all of his stars at his disposal for this matchup.
San Antonio Spurs (24-36) @ Miami Heat (39-21)
February 26, 2022 | 7:00 PM CT
Watch: Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Devontae Cacok (Out — Two Way), Joe Wieskamp (Out — Two Way), Josh Richardson (Out — Shoulder), Romeo Langford (Out — Groin), Josh Primo (Out — Wrist)
Heat Injuries: Victor Oladipo (Out — Knee), Markieff Morris (Out — Competition Reconditioning)
What To Watch For
- Lonnie Walker IV has arguably played some of the best basketball of his career since PATFO sent Derrick White to the Boston Celtics a few weeks ago. The 23-year-old guard has averaged 19.5 points per game on 50.8% across his last four outings while providing a spark off the bench. Despite dominating severely shorthanded squads on every stop during his heater, this could be the stretch Lonnie needs to get back on track after a horrific start to his contract year. Miami possesses the fifth-best defensive rating in the league this season (107.2). And they could pose the first legitimate test for Walker on the Rodeo Road Trip since the Cavaliers. Not only will he have to find a way to score efficiently against the Heat, but he will also have to slow down Sixth Man of the Year favorite Tyler Herro on the other end. If Lonnie keeps things up, general manager Brian Wright may have to start entertaining the idea of how much it might cost the Spurs to re-sign the fourth-year swingman this Summer.
- After watching Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro miss several games throughout the first half of their schedule, the Heat finally have all of their leading scorers healthy at the same time. Kyle Lowry kept Miami chugging along and atop the Eastern Conference standings while his co-stars recuperated. But Miami enters this matchup as winners of seven of their last eight games, looking like the title contender their fans thought they would be before the year started. Any member of their starstudded quartet is capable of singlehandedly taking over a contest, which could be a problem for a lackluster San Antonio defense. Don’t forget about three-point marksmen Duncan Robinson, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, P.J. Tucker, or Caleb Martin. The Spurs are less than 24 hours removed from a double-overtime victory in which they forfeited 153 points to a Wizards club missing Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis. The Silver and Black will have to dial in when they visit The Magic City, or they may be looking at another blowout at the hands of the Heat.
- Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, and Jakob Poeltl have played like the new-age version of The Big Three during San Antonio’s Rodeo Road Trip. And that likely explains why the Spurs are 4-2 on their annual extended excursion away from the AT&T Center. Murray is averaging a near triple-double. Johnson is putting up 21.2 points per game while putting forth his best impression of a genuine secondary scoring option. Meanwhile, Poeltl has done everything short of developing a reliable jumper. As long as this trio produces at this level, head coach Gregg Popovich and crew can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the association. If they get meaningful minutes from Doug McDermott, Devin Vassell, and Lonnie Walker IV, they have a chance to upset the Heat.
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.