The Miami Heat (57-15) make their way into the AT&T Center sporting the NBA’s second longest winning streak in history behind the Los Angeles Lakers. The Chicago Bulls during their road trip by many, outside of the San Antonio Spurs, would be the one to put a halt to their streak, and they did.
The Heat (57-15) take a two-game lead in the NBA standings over the Spurs (55-17) into their matchup on Sunday. A win would essentially provide Miami a four-game cushion with nine remaining, given that the Heat also would control any potential head-to-head tiebreaker with San Antonio.
Miami has won 28 of its last 29 games overall, getting back on the winning track at New Orleans on Friday, two days after Chicago snapped a 27-game Heat winning streak. But San Antonio has won 28 of its last 30 games at home, and facing the Spurs on the road is traditionally a painful expedition for many members of the Heat – as it tends to be for everyone else in the NBA.
Dwyane Wade is 1-4 at San Antonio, sitting out three other Heat losses there during his career. Chris Bosh is 1-7. James is 3-7. Shane
Battier – a longtime player in the Western Conference – has enjoyed eight wins from the visitors’ side when facing the Spurs, and also been on the losing end 16 times there.
The only other meeting between the clubs this season was Nov. 29 in Miami, a strange game in that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich – citing a desire to rest his best players at the end of a long road trip – sent Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Danny Green home before the game.
With guys like Patty Mills, Nando De Colo and Matt Bonner filling out the starting lineup – they’ve combined to make four other starts this season – the Spurs almost beat the Heat anyway, leading by five with 2:13 left before getting outscored 12-2 in a wild Miami finish that gave the Heat a 105-100 win.
Ginobili played just under three minutes in Friday night’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers because of a strained right hamstring, and Popovich glumly said afterward he didn’t expect him to be ready to face the Heat. And on Saturday the Spurs made it official: Ginobili is out for the game, with no return date set.
The Spurs have won six of their last seven games. Of those six wins, only one came by double figures, an 11-point victory over Golden State. The average margin of the other five wins in that span, over Dallas, Cleveland, Utah, Denver and Clippers was 3.4 points, and the only loss was a one-pointer at Houston.
Tony Parker – Dwyane Wade
Danny Green – Mike Miller
Kawai Leonard – LeBron James
Tim Duncan – Chris Bosh
Tiago Splitter – Udonis Haslem
When: Sunday, March 31st at 6:00 PM (Spurs Time)
Where: AT&T Center
Television: FSSW Radio: 1200 WOAI (Local)
This is a start of another big stretch for the Spurs. They quickly turn around and travel to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies. With a day of rest in between, they look ahead to another back-to-back, at home against Orlando on April 3rd and back on the road to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder. If you have been looking on your calendar, that is four games in five nights, I am tired just thinking about it.
For perspective on the Miami Heat, head over to Fansided’s own All You Can Heat.