Heat vs. Spurs: This Time It’s For Real

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SAN ANTONIO — To most Americans “Remember the Alamo” is a famous battle cry they learned in middle school.

For the Heat, it might simply be something they’re trying to do.

With the shortened lockout schedule wiping out their trip to San Antonio last season and coach Gregg Popovich letting the air out of a marquee showdown four months ago, tonight’s game (NBA TV, pregame 6:30 p.m.) at the AT&T Center will be the first meeting between the key players of the NBA’s top two teams in more than 14 months and the first trip to the Alamo City by Miami’s Big Three since March 4, 2011.

Manu Ginobili is already a scratch from the Spurs’ lineup after suffering a hamstring injury in the first quarter of Friday night’s win over the Clippers.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has indicated that since his team’s 27-game win streak has been snapped, he’ll be looking to get some rest for his key players before the playoffs begin in three weeks. He sat out starting point guard Mario Chalmers on Friday night against the Hornets.

But first, it’s likely that a pair of No. 1 seeds in each conference — clearly the two best teams in the league this season — will have most of their frontline stars on the court to circle, jab and try to deliver the kind of meaningful blow that might still be felt if the Spurs and Heat meet up again in the NBA Finals.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh vs. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, minus Ginobili still carries the knockout punch feel of a heavyweight fight in the most anticipated regular season game in San Antonio in years.

“We haven’t played each other a lot,” Wade told reporters after Friday night’s win in New Orleans. “And that’s the Eastern and Western Conference, you don’t get a chance to see each other a lot until hopefully you meet at the end of June.”

“They play with a higher pace and a higher energy level at home,” said forward Shane Battier. “It’s a tough place. But it’ll be a good challenge for us.”

What’s at stake officially is still the race for the overall best record in the league and home-court advantage all the way through the playoffs. Miami’s 57-15 record is two games better than San Antonio, but a Spurs win would slice that in half, give them a 1-1 split of the season series and the tie-breaker (record against the opposite conference) should they eventually meet up with the Larry O’Brien Trophy on the line.

“You play all year trying to get home-court advantage,” said Popovich, “because that’s where you always feel most comfortable. But having said that, you don’t win championships without being able to win on the road.”

You’d be lucky to get the stoic Spurs, always a reflection of their never-let-them-see-you-sweat coach, to even admit they knew the Heat were next up on the schedule.

It’s the approach taken by second-year forward Kawhi Leonard, who’ll draw the main assignment of guarding James, who is likely on his way to a fourth MVP award, which would put him in the select company of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six), Michael Jordan (five), Bill Russell (five) and Wilt Chamberlain (four).

“I don’t think nothing of it, really,” said the 21-year-old Leonard. “It’s how I’ve been playing my whole life, guarding the best player on the other team.”

Of course, the first Heat-Spurs stirred up more than its share of controversy, debate and repercussion back on Nov. 29 when Popovich showed his disdain for the NBA schedule-maker by having Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and Danny Green fly straight home from Orlando and miss the last stop (and a back-to-back) at the end of a six-game road trip at Miami. It had been a much anticipated and highly promoted national TV game on TNT. The club was fined $250,000 and reprimanded by commissioner David Stern for the stunt and yet a collection of Spurs understudies pushed the Heat stars to the limit in a 105-100 loss.

“People say, ‘Oh, he’s resting them,’ but it’s not about rest,” said Popovich. “It’s about being as healthy as possible at the end of the year.

“Not playing that fourth game in five nights, if you’ve got Tim Duncan’s knee and you’re at his age, might make him more ready to go at the end of the year. At lot of guys play 40-plus minutes to win now. We’re more concerned with later.”

While Miami is 2-22 all-time at the AT&T Center and took a 125-95 beating on Mar. 4, 2011 in the only other visit to San Antonio since the James-Wade-Bosh trinity was formed, it is more curiosity and honing their own game that is on the minds of the Heat.

“It’s always good to play the best and play against the best,” James said. “It’ll be an opportunity for us. We just want to get better. The game Sunday doesn’t define our season or how we go from there. We just want to continue to move forward.”

Perhaps to a historic June rematch that would be as memorable as the Alamo.

41 Comments

  1. I Hate The Heat BANDWAGON says:

    Don’t forget that the spurs is beatable in a 7 game series =D that is their only weakness

  2. James says:

    They didnt get fined lol wow everyone knows they did it on purpose do they even know that LeBron and chalmers were at the club past curfew the night before! But yet the spurs get fine cuz they were resting their players because they played 4 games in like 6 nights smh..

    • Marco29 says:

      Miami front office came up with escuses for LBJ and Wade and probably informed the League prior to game instead of using the DNP-coach descision that Pop used in November. I think the intention was the same but Heat were more diplomatic and did not get fined. Spurs did not complain as they recognize the right for each franchiise to manage their roster as they see fit. At least, if they meet again in the Finals, everybody will be on the floor.

  3. W/E says:

    Nope, it turned out a fiasco, LBJ and Dwade didnt play.

  4. mee(a)t says:

    Wow that was a nice game! Watching the heat is like some weird hero story

  5. Doza says:

    Remember when the spurs got fined for resting starters early in the season? Where are lebron and wade? Hypocrisy at its finest.

  6. Title (Up set at the Heat Organization), as a fan of the NBA for many years I am totally upset at the Heat and their decision to not play Lebron and Wade this Sunday 3/31/2013. I have followed Heat’s winning streak and have enjoyed their run. I didn’t expect the Bulls to have ended the Heats’ winning streak but they did. I was anticipating the meeting of the Spurs and the Heat. Then to find out that the Heat all of a sudden didn’t play their key players. We all know that the Spurs were fined 250,000 for sending home their key players back on November 29, 2012. My question is why would the commissioner allow the Heat to not be fined for their obvious defiance. I feel short-changed as a fan and feel that something should be done. What has this game turned into?

    • Be Realistic says:

      Injured is different from sending them on a plane home dummy! Plus heres excitement the Heat beat the Spurs without Wade or Lebron…. What a game Bosh with the game winning 3!

      • Lets be realistic, the only ignorance here is you and the comments. Grow up and then come talk the game the way it should be talked about. If you’re not saying anything positive why say anything at all. That was a general statement and plus the Spurs is not my team. Good luck on the rest of the season.

  7. SG says:

    This whole article is completely useless.

  8. Chris says:

    Two of the best teams. I don’t care for the heat but I know Spurs vs Heat is a great matchup! Here’s hoping this is what the finals look like because I have a feeling were going to see some really good basketball from both teams, and that’s what I’d prefer to see over a blowout

  9. Toro says:

    So the Spo did the same thing, and will last LBJ and Wade – so it’s not going to be 4 real

  10. lolol says:

    LeBron James, Wade, and Chalmers will be sitting tonight. HA!

  11. agutierrez says:

    Word is that the Heat will sit both James and Wade. So much for all the posturing on here. Hope they match up in the finals.

  12. W/E says:

    We need guys like Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone who will fight back with harder plays and make the league more exciting instead of crying to the refs like new players do.

  13. Samuel Penalba says:

    Ever since they beat Cleveland in the NBA finals they haven’t been able to make it to the finals. Yes they are champions but times change and age. I’m confidant to say there time is up, they won’t win another championship with Duncan or Ginoboli you’ll see.

  14. lesson learned says:

    LBJ will do what Isiah said next time they will meet.. Lets see if The Bull do that again if they realized one of the went to the locker room.. LBJ will Hammer them..

  15. Jerry Perez says:

    Oh yeah and kawhi Leonard is gonna show today why he is the future of the Spurs

    • Johnny Boy says:

      First of all, the Heat are 24-5 against the western conference, sweeping 9 of the west teams, and are 8-2 when playing the Spur’s division. I give the Spur’s much credit for giving the defending champs almost everything they had last meeting, but remember last year when they blew out the Spur’s without Wade? This will be a great game but I’m rooting for my Heat!

  16. Jerry Perez says:

    Um first of all the spurs play in the western conference, a way tougher conference. Second of all they also play in the toughest division in the league compared to the Heat who play in the worst. The spurs play 5 legit contenders in the west vs the heat who have maybe 1. 4 NBA titles and 14 seasons of 50 plus wins. Oh yeah lets noy forget that last game where the spurs bench game the Miami starters all they could handle in the own house. The Spurs got this one, believe that!

    • Hater4life! says:

      I’m so glad you can’t say that anymore. Who gave who the most they could handle in their own arena? Lol

    • Be Realistic says:

      hahaha Dont you look silly now! Heat bench beat the Spurs without Wade or Lebron. Eat your words loser!

    • bullsfan0218 says:

      haha so glad Wade and James were out and the heat won anyway, was sick of all the spurs fans talking about the game they ALMOST beat the heat with their bench like it was the ultimate proof that the Spurs were better or something. That being said I’m a bulls fan not a Heat fan and if the Heat and Spurs meet in the finals it’ll definitely be a competitive series and these regular season games wont count for anything

  17. Thor says:

    Isiah is right, Lebron should have dropped the hammer on Hinrich on that play. You make hard fouls, you pay the price.

  18. Heat’s going to win!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :)

    • Spurs says:

      That’s what heat fans said about the bulls game

      • Be Realistic says:

        LOL now the Heat are saying that about the Spurs…. Oh my bad they beat the Spurs without Lebron, Wade or Chalmbers! Heat haters just cant catch a break lol losers!

  19. miami heat says:

    let’s get it on…MIAMI HEAT!!!

  20. Ben says:

    This should have been the potential 30 win streak game for the Heat and a worldwide must see game but the referees ruined it in Chicago by not calling flagrant fouls on the Heat and especially on James. Hope one day they will understand that all we want to see is beautiful games instead of fights otherwise we would switch to other sports such as Catch or Boxing.

  21. Chris says:

    This is going to be a good game!

    Also for the guy judging Leonard’s comment.. I’m sure he know who he’s guarding, but he’s basically saying he welcomes the challenge. Leonard is said to be the future of his franchise so this will be a real test to see if Timmy can hand him the keys

  22. allaroundballer says:

    Spurs and Pop are great in whole 82 games. They manage the roster and they rotate them well. But not in 7 tight playoff games where a team play with 7/8 best players most minutes.

    I always love to watch lot of ball and player movement, a team game. But playoff is physical and bloody fight, you’ll need one/two go to guy in their prime

    • RG says:

      the Spurs manage a lot better than most other teams in the playoffs. i hate it when people say the Spurs are a great regular season team, but not a good playoff team. well, about 20+ other teams are not a good playoff team as well, and guess what, the Spurs are better than those teams and have a history of making good playoff runs that most of the other teams don’t have. yes, the Heat and Thunder are better playoff teams now, but the Spurs are not far behind, and they did make it back to the WCF last year, and they can do it again, so it’s time to stop the whole “they’re a regular season team, not a playoff team” talk because they are still a good playoff team.

      and they have go-to guys in Parker and Duncan, plus Ginobili (when healthy) and Leonard.

    • RG says:

      and yes, i know Duncan and Ginobili are not in their primes anymore (they can still play well at their age though), but Parker still is.

    • Common sense says:

      I wonder, how did they get those 4 rings if they can’t manage the roster to perfection?

  23. cruzero says:

    FYI, mister leonard, Lebron James is not just the best player of the opposing team, but the best player in the world today, so you might as well care if you plan to guard him.

    • HEATFANSINCEWADE says:

      agreed! with that mentality mr leonard will have a hard time tonight.

    • Mark says:

      Why do you have to criticize Leonard? He didn’t say anything negative and if you don’t think he cares, you’re sadly mistaken.

      • Mike says:

        I agree with you Mark. Leonard did not say anything negative about Lebron… He simply stated that he has always guarded the best player on the team they are playing. Nothing wrong with that statement at all. He has guarded the best and has become a great defender.
        LET’S GO SPURS!!!!!

    • alamoaggie says:

      if you nut jobs even watch leonard he’s quickly becoming one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. besides, he actually plays in the west where he guards the likes of durnat, kobe and harden on a daily basis and has held al of them well below their averages each time. there isn’t anyone besides james in the east to even worry about.

      • Are you stupid? says:

        So Melo isn’t a hard cover, loul deng, paul perice, josh smith, paul george. stop hyping up the west kid theres great players in both confernces and dudes not even that great of a defender and nobody in the league is as physical as LeBron james