The clash set for Sunday afternoon between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat may not be the grudge match most were dreaming of when the schedules came out this season. The first rematch of last year’s NBA Finals may be a letdown.
Both teams are sitting in second place in their respective conferences, and both teams are hobbling into South Beach on one leg — literally. Heat guard Dwyane Wade has missed three straight games and 12 total games due to knee issues. An integral part of last year’s finals may not even be a factor in the teams’ first meeting since July. The Heat have struggled with injuries all year, with Norris Cole being the only player from Erik Spoelstra‘s group that has played in every game so far.
As for the Spurs, they will be without three of the starting five from Game 1 of the finals against the Heat as Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter will miss the game due to injuries. The trop accounted for 30.7 points per game in the Spurs’ postseason run last year.
Instead of seeing matchups like Wade vs. Green, it will be more along the lines of Marco Belinelli against Ray Allen. It’s not to say that wouldn’t be entertaining, but let’s be realistic. Gregg Popovich and Spoelstra will have to stay flexible with their game plan and get creative with lineups.
Rather than the raw talent and offensive show that most were expecting, the game will have a more gritty, defensive feel that is somewhat similar to Big Ten college basketball games. It will come down to which coach can better execute and which bench can produce.