San Antonio Spurs (13-3) vs. Miami Heat (10-3)
Um, so this game got a lot less interesting.
I mean, it might be fun to watch because Charles Barkley is calling the game, but Gregg Popovich's decision to send Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili home to end this road trip for San Antonio takes a lot of the juice out of this game. This is not a 13-3 Spurs squad walking into American Airlines Arena. This is not a team that has gone 5-0 on this road trip that ends tonight in Miami.
And so the Heat with their super trio will probably run roughshod over the Spurs and win easily. The Spurs were 0-2 in games played without the trio last year. It is a rare occasion that all three do not play and rarely does it turn out well for San Antonio. Certainly, the Spurs do not do it against teams playing as well as the Heat.
The Spurs are likely to keep playing hard and they are such a tight-knit group that they could probably still run their stuff even without their key players and run it effectively. Doing it against the Heat is an entirely different story.
Miami cannot be licking its lips too much because San Antonio could still be dangerous. But there is the potential for embarrassment.
I am sure Barkley will have something to say about that.
Other Storylines to Watch
-So who steps up with those three out? Tiago Splitter has been very good for the Spurs of late, scoring 15 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in an earlier game against the Wizards and he had nine points and four rebounds in 16.5 minutes last night against the Magic. He could be seeing a featured role against the Heat tonight against the small Heat front line. He cannot forget his main role and has to make sure Miami dominates the glass.
-They may not need him tonight, but Shane Battier is out for another week with a strained MCL. The Heat like Battier's versatility and ability to defend on the perimeter and he will become even more important as the season moves on. Now, it is OK to have him sitting out.
Tonight's Other Games
Denver Nuggets (8-7) vs. Golden State Warriors (8-6)
Life is tough right now for Andrew Bogut. Bogut is still not back and he said he is holding himself out until he is 100 percent healthy. The intrigue though comes from his revealing that he had microfracture surgery on his left ankle and not a minor procedure as previously described. Golden State has been very good without him, but Bogut is fighting his body right now and eventually he will make his way back to the court.