The San Antonio Spurs have not yet needed MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard, who remains out while dealing with right quadriceps tendinopathy. The Spurs will try to stay undefeated when they kick off a four-game road trip by visiting the Miami Heat, who will be missing one of their stars as well, on Wednesday.
San Antonio is relying more on LaMarcus Aldridge with Leonard out, and the veteran power forward is responding by averaging 24.3 points and 9.3 rebounds. Aldridge is also helping out on the defensive end and provided the highlight of Monday’s 101-97 win over the Raptors with a chase-down block of Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry as the Spurs held their third consecutive opponent under 100 points to start the season. Aldridge could have some extra room to work with down low on Wednesday with Heat center Hassan Whiteside expected to miss his third straight game with a bone bruise on his left knee. “It’s tough when you don’t have Hassan on the floor,” Miami point guard Goran Dragic told reporters. “He usually changes a lot of shots. We’re just going to keep on practicing and get better.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, FS Southwest (San Antonio), FS Sun (Miami)
ABOUT THE SPURS (3-0): Dejounte Murray beat out Patty Mills in training camp for the right to replace Tony Parker (left quadriceps tendon surgery) in the starting point guard slot and is showing off his wide range of skills in the early going. The 21-year-old hauled in double-digit rebounds in each of the last two games and enjoyed his best all-around effort of the young season with 16 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in 28 minutes on Monday. The Spurs are also getting a solid defensive effort on the perimeter from shooting guard Danny Green, who blocked five shots to go along with 17 points and eight boards.
ABOUT THE HEAT (2-1): Dragic (quad bruise) and Dion Waiters (ankle) are also hurting for Miami, though Dragic plans to be available for Wednesday’s game. If Waiters is unable to go, the Heat have plenty of other options at the shooting guard spot and watched a couple of them go off for big games in Monday’s 104-93 win over Atlanta. Josh Richardson led the way with a team-high 21 points and is averaging 14.3 while Wayne Ellington came off the bench and buried 6-of-8 from 3-point range after going 2-of-10 from beyond the arc in the first two games.
1. Spurs PF Joffrey Lauvergne (ankle) will not play Wednesday.
2. Heat PF Jordan Mickey started the last two games in place of Whiteside and averaged five points and six rebounds in 14.5 minutes.
3. San Antonio took the last nine in the series, going back to Game 3 of the 2014 NBA Finals.
PREDICTION: Spurs 105, Heat 95