Preview: Spurs face another top tier Eastern Conference foe in Miami Heat

Dejounte Murray of the San Antonio Spurs. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Dejounte Murray of the San Antonio Spurs. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
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The San Antonio Spurs have taken down some of the best teams in the Eastern Conference over the past week, can they keep it going against the Miami Heat?

DeMar DeRozan tore up the Eastern Conference last week, leading the San Antonio Spurs to a 3-0 record against some of the toughest teams in the East. After taking down the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and Toronto Raptors last week the Spurs travel to South Beach to face the Miami Heat.

The Heat’s major upgrade from last season was the addition of star wing, Jimmy Butler. Butler has played like a star this year, filling whatever area of the game was necessary in order for Miami to gut out some impressive wins. He’s not pouring in 30 points a night like James Harden or racking up assists like Trae Young but Butler has done an outstanding job of adapting his multi-faceted game night after night in whatever way helps the Heat most.

Butler has played great but the argument he might not even be the most important player on the heat. That title could conceivably go to Miami’s bouncy, do it all big man, Bam Adebayo. Bam has taken off in his third year in the league. He’s taken huge steps forward in every area of the game and plays similarly to how Draymond Green did at his peak with the Golden State Warriors.

The Heat also frequently lean on a trio of young guards, including two rookies, to help carry them on a nightly basis. Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, and Duncan Robinson are all dangerous shooters and serviceable ball handlers. Nunn, in particular, has been having a breakout season. Were it not for the outstanding season that Ja Morant is having he could easily be the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year.

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Miami’s group of young guards are dangerous but the Spurs have some solid young guards of their own. Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker should be able to go right at Miami’s trio and come away victorious. This game will likely be decided by other matchups.

DeRozan has been one of the hottest players in the league over his last two weeks and that should continue tonight. The Spurs newly fine-tuned offense should give him plenty of opportunities to get at the rim. Butler is one of the strongest perimeter defenders in the league and Adabaoy is an impressive rim protector but I still like DeRozan’s chances of having another All-Star level performance.

The focus tonight has to be on defense. Can DeRozan hold his own against Butler? Can Jakob Poeltl stay in front of Adabaoy enough to prevent him from getting into the lane and creating for others? Will the Spurs young guards be able to counter Miami’s? The last two should be achievable, but the chances of DeRozan shutting down Butler are questionable at best.

Gameday bets and prediction

The Heat has built one of the strongest home-court advantages in the league this season. They’ve gone a perfect 3-0 in overtime games on their home-court and have only lost one game all season in the comforts of the American Airlines Center.

I don’t like the Spurs chances of winning this game but they should be able to cover that five point spread. San Antonio will have a much better chance of getting a win and splitting the season series with the Heat when they host them in San Antonio later this week.

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The San Antonio Spurs have had a run of stellar performances against teams from the East but they’ll need to take it to another level tonight. The Miami Heat are one of the toughest, most well-coached teams in the league. This promises to be one of the more exciting matchups of the season.

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