The San Antonio Spurs have strugled to be healthy all season long and the drop in performance – especially on the defensive end – has been noticeable in recent weeks.
The Spurs started the week with Tiago Splitter and Danny Green both sidelined and things got tougher with the injury that Kawhi Leonard sustained against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The three players are a huge part in the rotation and while all of them add some alternative on the offensive end, their value relies on the defense, as Splitter is the team’s rim protector and both Green and Leonard are the best perimeter defenders.
Having these three players sidelined it’s a huge loss for the Spurs and it was noticeable today as they visited the Miami Heat. In reality, they had no chance of coming away with a win after being completely dominated from start to finish in a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals.
The Spurs couldn’t do much on the offensive side of the ball – aside from Tim Duncan, who ended with 23 points – and struggled mightily on defense. LeBron James and Chris Bosh had a field day against a depleted Spurs’ defensive unit and both combined for 42 points and 12 rebounds as Miami ran away with a solid 113-101 win that further confirmed what the Spurs have shown all season long — they have serious issues going against the top teams.
It’s no secret that the Spurs have struggled all season long against the title contenders on both conferences, and having key players out is not going to help their cause. Today’s loss against the Heat showed that Gregg Popovich’s team really misses their injured players and while the result against the Heat might not have been different with Leonard, Splitter and Green, they won’t be able to mount a title challenge unless they have all their pieces in perfect health conditions.