In the Weekly Preview, we’ll take a look at the upcoming games for the San Antonio Spurs. This week, the Spurs play the Miami Heat on the road, the Atlanta Hawks at home and then the Miami Heat again, this time at home.
The San Antonio Spurs just had their best week of the season with wins over the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors. They went 3-1 (with a lone loss to the Memphis Grizzlies) and have really stepped up their play in recent weeks. The Spurs have a much easier schedule in the coming days, which should help continue their boost in momentum.
San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat
Wednesday, January 15, 6:30 PM CT
The Spurs take on the Miami Heat to close out their four-game road trip. The Heat have been one of the biggest surprises in the Eastern Conference, as they sit in the third spot with a 27-12 record. They also boast the best home record in the NBA at 17-1. The Spurs will certainly have their work cut out for them if they want to end the road trip on a high note.
When looking into the Heat’s major turnaround from last season, one doesn’t have to look much further than Jimmy Butler. Butler left Philadelphia for Miami in a sign-and-trade this past summer after inking a four-year deal for $142 million. Butler is averaging career-highs in rebounds, blocks and assists. A hard nosed defender with a knack for getting to the rim, the Spurs will have to do everything they can to slow him down. He’s very physical and loves to body up against defenders.
The Heat have the fourth best field goal percentage in the league, while the Spurs are currently third. The Spurs may want to push the pace, as Miami fares very well in halfcourt offense. The Heat play with the 25th fastest pace in the league so the Spurs will need to look for transition opportunities whenever they can. The DeMar DeRozan and Jimmy Butler matchup will be one to keep an eye on.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Atlanta Hawks
Friday, January 17, 7:30 PM CT
Last Meeting: Hawks 108, Spurs 100
The Spurs will be out for revenge as they blew a perfectly winnable game in their earlier meeting with the Hawks. The Spurs fell apart in the fourth quarter as Trae Young lit them up from downtown. The Hawks have lost four games in a row, and are just 2-8 in their last ten.
The Hawks are essentially a one-man team, and that one man is Trae Young. He has had better stats across the board from an already impressive rookie season. He torched the Spurs for 29 points and 13 assists in the first matchup. San Antonio will need to do a much better job of containing him this time around. Pop may even want to mix it up with a double-team here or there to force Young to give up the ball. His range from outside extends well past the three-point line so the Spurs will need to pick him up in the halfcourt immediately.
LaMarcus Aldridge struggled earlier in the season against Atlanta, while DeRozan had 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting. DeRozan has been on fire lately, while Aldridge has been taking many more threes. While the Hawks have been in dire shape as of late, the Spurs have a habit of playing to the level of their competition. In this case it would be a shame to have a hiccup in their first home game back after a successful road trip.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat
Sunday, January 19, 2:00 PM CT
The Spurs end the week with a home game against the Miami Heat. While the Heat are formidable with the league’s best home record, they are just 10-11 on the road. Miami has lost back-to-back road games to the Knicks and Nets. Before they come to San Antonio, they’ll have a tough game in Oklahoma City. Both the Spurs and Heat will be playing their third game in five nights, but hopefully being at home will help the Spurs get the victory.
For all the hype Jimmy Butler warrants, third year player Bam Adebayo has been having a career year. He’s averaging career-highs in points (15.9), assists (4.5) and rebounds (10.4). The Heat traded Hassan Whiteside to Portland, whose absence would hurt most teams, but Adebayo has done a great job taking over as the defensive anchor. The Heat picked up his player option and, if his production keeps up, he’ll most certainly earn a hefty payday in the summer of 2021. It is imperative that the Spurs keep him out of the paint as much as possible. If Aldridge and Trey Lyles can force Adebayo out onto the perimeter, it would really open up the lane for DeRozan to continue attacking the rim.
The Spurs have to be feeling pretty darn good with all the wins they have been racking up over the NBA’s elite. While some of us were anxious to see how the Spurs would fare as the schedule difficulty ramped up, they seem to have all hands on deck. This has easily been the most exciting stretch of the season to date, but the Spurs will need this to be the norm instead of the outlier if they are serious about locking up a playoff spot.