The Miami Heat and the visiting San Antonio Spurs — two elite franchises with a combined eight NBA championships since 1999 — will meet Wednesday night.
Both teams have struggled to play up to their championship pedigree this season. Miami (32-30) is coming off a disappointing home loss to the Chicago Bulls, falling 110-102 on Monday night.
Meanwhile, San Antonio (31-29) had been under .500 before its current three-game win streak. That streak includes Monday night’s wild 146-143 overtime victory that ended the Washington Wizards’ eight-game winning streak.
The Spurs allowed the Wizards to shoot 53.2 percent from the floor. Wizards guard Bradley Beal burned San Antonio’s defense for 45 points.
DeMar DeRozan scored 37 points and dished out 10 assists to lead San Antonio in a game that included 146 total points in the paint — 86 of them by the Wizards.
“You wouldn’t exactly say it was a defensive clinic by either team,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We couldn’t stop them, and they couldn’t stop us.”
But while Popovich was upset with his team’s defense, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was dealing with his own emotions.
The Heat was without three starter-caliber guards due to injuries to start Monday’s game: Tyler Herro (foot), Kendrick Nunn (neck spasms) and Victor Oladipo (knee).
Then, in the second half, wing Duncan Robinson — one of the most prolific three-point shooters in the league — left the game due to an illness.
“Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us,” Spoelstra said of the Heat, who were also without forward Andre Iguodala on Monday due to a hip injury. “We had guys out, but nobody cares what any particular team is going through. Every team is going through something.”
Heat wing Jimmy Butler, who matched a season-high 33 points on Monday, was blunt when asked about losing to the Bulls.
“We didn’t guard them for the entire game,” Butler said.
The Heat (three NBA titles) and Spurs (five NBA titles) have a shared history. They met in the NBA Finals in 2013 (Miami won). They met in the NBA Finals in 2014 (San Antonio won). And they have met once this season, with Miami winning 107-87 at San Antonio on April 21.
That was Miami’s largest-ever margin of victory in a game played at San Antonio.
Popovich — predictably — was not happy with San Antonio’s performance in that game.
“They ended up kicking our butts,” Popovich said. “Based on how we played and how (the Heat) stuck with their press, (Miami) deserved to win.”
The Spurs responded to that loss by starting its current three-game win streak. DeRozan leads the Spurs in scoring (21.5) and assists (7.2) this season. Dejounte Murray is second on the Spurs in scoring (15.6) and rebounds (7.1). In addition, Murray had 25 points and a game-high 17 rebounds on Monday.
Butler leads the Heat in scoring (21.5), assists (7.3) and steals (2.1). Bam Adebayo leads Miami in rebounds (9.1), ranking second in points (19.1) and assists (5.3).
One more note regarding Wednesday’s matchup: Miami is 18-14 at home, but the Spurs are even better than that on the road (18-10).
–Field Level Media