Spurs-Heat Preview

The Miami Heat are off to their best home start in franchise
history, which may not be encouraging for a San Antonio Spurs team
that has been routed in its last two trips to South Beach.

San Antonio, though, has a run of its own going, too.

Miami seeks to remain unbeaten at home while the Spurs look to
complete a perfect six-game road trip as the streaking teams meet
Thursday night.

The Heat (10-3) have won their first six games at American
Airlines Arena and earned their fourth consecutive victory overall
with a 110-108 come-from-behind win over Cleveland on Saturday.

LeBron James scored a game-high 30 points and finished with five
assists, the last coming when he found Ray Allen for a 3-pointer
with 18.2 seconds left to put Miami ahead for good.

Chris Bosh finished with 23 points and Allen had 17 off the
bench for the Heat, who trailed by seven with 1:58 remaining.

”It speaks to the competitive will that the guys have at the
end of close games,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”We have a lot of
gamers in that locker room. They rise to the occasion. They want
situations like that. That can be dangerous, as well.”

That’s especially true at home, where the Heat have won 28 of
their last 30 regular-season games and 10 straight including the
playoffs.

They’ve also dominated the Spurs in their last two games at
Miami, getting 30 points from Bosh in both victories – a 110-80 win
March 14, 2011 and a 120-98 rout Jan. 17, when James had 33 points
and 10 assists.

A similar result doesn’t seem as likely given how well the Spurs
have been playing during their trip.

San Antonio (13-3) cruised to a 110-89 victory over Orlando on
Wednesday behind a game-high 20 points from Manu Ginobili while
Tony Parker added 14 and eight assists.

”It’s early. We’ll lose our share, but right now we’re playing
pretty well, I guess,” coach Gregg Popovich said. ”It’s our
second road trip this month. I think they do deserve credit for
keeping their focus all that time.”

Tim Duncan added 15 points for the Spurs, who have won eight
straight and 19 of their last 21 regular-season road games. A win
would give San Antonio just its third unbeaten road trip with a
minimum of five games in franchise history, with the others coming
on five-game swings in 1984 and 1990.

”We’re just playing basketball the way we’ve been playing it,”
Duncan said. ”Whoever is put in front of us, that’s how we’re
playing. We’ve been playing well for a couple of games here and we
hope to continue it.”

While San Antonio remains humble, Miami knows how dangerous the
Spurs can be.

“Year in and year out, the Spurs are going to come into a season
and not be one of the talked about teams in the NBA and they’re
going to have the best record in the league,” said Dwyane Wade, who
sat out the last meeting with a sprained right ankle. “It should be
no surprise. You should come to expect it.”

Spoelstra expressed similar thoughts.

“They’ve done a terrific job on the road even dating back to
last season,” he said. “They are a well-oiled machine.”

San Antonio is allowing only 95.1 points per game, but Miami is
the league’s second highest-scoring team, averaging 104.8.

James, who is averaging 30.6 points in his last seven games
versus the Spurs, ranks fourth in the NBA in scoring at 25.2 per
contest.