SAN ANTONIO — The only way the Heat and Spurs are going to square off at full strength this season is if they meet in the NBA Finals.
LeBron James (hamstring), Dwyane Wade (right ankle) and Mario Chalmers (right ankle) were all scratched from the Miami lineup for tonight’s game at the AT&T Center.
Manu Ginobili (hamstring) is out for the Spurs.
It’s the second time this season that a highly anticipated showdown between the top two teams in the league was aborted at the last minute.
When coach Gregg Popovich had Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Ginobili and Danny Green fly home to San Antonio instead of accompanying the team to Miami on Nov. 29, the Spurs were fined $250,000 and reprimanded by commissioner David Stern.
A lineup of Spurs reserves put up a good fight, before losing 105-100.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said outside the locker room before Sunday night’s game that scratching three members of his starting five — including two of his All-Stars — was not in retaliation for Popovich’s actions.
“I can see where you guys would draw those conclusions, but no,” Spoelstra told reporters.
“This was unforeseen. Mario now hasn’t had a lot of progress in the last couple of days, so we’’ll have to slowly see how he feels and go day by day. Dwyane retweaked about every minor injury he had in the New Orleans game. You could see it, half the game he was on the floor. L.J. obviously tightened up his hamstring. I didn’t put him back in in the fourth quarter.”
When informed that James and Wade were sitting by reporters, Popovich, playfully staggered backward in mock shock.
“What kind of (expletive) is that?” he said. “Are you kidding me? What a bunch of rummies. They’re doing that. Who would think of something like that? There’s no place for that.”
Asked if he was surprised, Popovich shook his head.
“I had too many things to think about to worry about that kind of thing,” he said.