San Antonio Spurs basketball was well worth the wait. In their first preseason game of the year, San Antonio put up 81 points in the first half, but fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 122-121 loss. Now they will look to bounce back against a Miami Heat squad that is already sitting a majority of their roster.
Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo among others will all sit out for the Heat. The Spurs on the other hand will be getting back one of their key contributors in Jeremy Sochan, who said he is “110%” healthy and ready to go. Keldon Johnson, is out for San Antonio’s first game in the newly names Frost Bank Center.
All eyes will once again be on Victor Wembanyama, who wowed a national audience with his 20 point, 5 rebound and 2 steal debut. The Spurs rookie is already showing some of his incredible highlight potential, and will look to keep the show going in front of the home crowd.
San Antonio Spurs (0-1) vs. Miami Heat (1-0)
October 9, 2023 | 7 P.M. CT
Watch: TNT | Listen: WOAI/KXTN
Spurs injuries: Khem Birch – Questionable (undisclosed), Keldon Johnson – Out (hamstring), Zach Collins – Out (coach’s decision), Doug McDermott – Out (coach’s decisions)
Heat injuries: Bam Adebayo – Out (undisclosed), Kyle Lowry – Out (undisclosed), Tyler Herro – Out (undisclosed), Kevin Love – Out (undisclosed), Josh Richardson – Out (foot), Jaime Jaquez Jr. – Out (groing), Nikola Jovic – Out (knee), Caleb Martin – Out (knee), Jimmy Butler – Out (dental procedure)
What to watch for
Jeremy Sochan’s return
We haven’t seen Sochan play since March 22 against the Milwaukee Bucks in which he put up 13 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. The sophomore was a key part of the Spurs last year, and will be a major factor towards their success in the 2023-24 season. Friday’s preseason game will be fans first glimpse into the improvements he’s made over the summer.
According to Doug McDermott, Sochan has been working with San Antonio’s new shooting coach Jimmy Baron. A strong shooting performance would inject even more confidence into a happy fan base.
I’m looking forward to seeing the offensive and defensive combination of Sochan and Wembanyama. Their off-the-court chemistry has been well documented. It will be fun to see it translate to the hardwood. Their length and versatility should cause havoc on the defensive end. Offensively, they both process the game at a high level and should work off of each other and their teammates well. Their developing chemistry is something to watch over the course of the season.
Malaki Branham’s scoring
Somewhat lost in the shuffle of Wemby’s debut was a strong scoring performance from Branham. He scored 15 points on 6 of 8 shooting from the field, and hit two three pointers. The sophomore showed off a lot of the same skills that translated to his successful rookie season. He displayed great control scoring in the mid-range and the ability to finish through contract. His three point shooting will be a major swing skill this year after shooting just 30.2% from deep last year.
With a depleted Miami roster, Branham could get some major run as starters rest. It would not surprise me for him to have another impressive scoring night.
Younger players getting a chance
With most of the Heat’s veterans sitting this game out, the Spurs could get out to a large lead early. If that’s the case, we may get more extended looks at some of the younger Spurs on the roster. Blake Wesley, Dominick Barlow, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Julian Champagnie, Sir’Jabari Rice and Sidy Cissoko are all names to watch for on Friday night.
The preseason is a chance for some of these unproven players to earn more minutes come October 25th. Let’s see who stands out against the Heat.