The San Antonio Spurs continue a difficult stretch in which they play six games in nine days when the inconsistent Miami Heat pay a visit on Wednesday night. The Spurs, who are still waiting for All-Star Kawhi Leonard (quad) to play his first game this season, have won seven of their last nine after rallying for a 96-93 victory over Detroit at home Monday.
“I thought the guys in a tough back-to-back did a heck of a job to hang in there, keep playing and trusting each other,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich told reporters after his team had seven players score in double figures Monday. “We made some great plays down the stretch from a lot of people. A lot of people participated.” The Spurs will go for their 11th straight victory against the Heat, including the 2014 NBA finals, and rolled to a 117-100 victory in Miami on Oct. 25 as LaMarcus Aldridge scored 31. The Heat have dropped three of four since stringing together a season-high three-game winning streak after getting pounded by Golden State 123-95 on Sunday. “We just look like some games we have a lot of energy and come out battling,” Miami guard Goran Dragic told the Miami Herald. “But some games, I don’t know how to describe it but it’s like we didn’t eat all day.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), FSN Southwest (San Antonio)
ABOUT THE HEAT (11-12): Dragic managed 20 points against Golden State and leads the team at 17.6 per game while backcourt mate Dion Waiters (15.0) must recover from a 1-for-10 performance Sunday. Miami is expected to be without center Hassan Whiteside (14.9 points, 12.7 rebounds) for the fourth straight contest with a knee injury and the Heat is 3-5 without him in the lineup. Center Kelly Olynyk has stepped up in Whiteside’s absence, averaging 14 points in the last three games, and guard Josh Richardson scored 16.8 per contest in the past four.
ABOUT THE SPURS (16-8): Aldridge has carried San Antonio most of the season, averaging more than 10 points better than anyone else on the team (22.8) after scoring 17 against Detroit and missing the previous night’s loss versus Oklahoma City. Starting small forward Kyle Anderson will miss 2-to-3 weeks with a MCL sprain of his left knee and Rudy Gay had 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists while starting in his place Monday. Center Pau Gasol recorded 15 points against Detroit after managing 17 combined in his previous three contests.
1. Miami’s rookie C Bam Adebayo has drained 14-of-20 from the field over the last four contests.
2. San Antonio PG Tony Parker is averaging 7.8 points in four games since returning from a quad injury and the Spurs are 4-0 with him in the lineup this season.
3. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra owns 451 career wins with the team and is three from tying Pat Riley for the franchise record.
PREDICTION: Spurs 112, Heat 100