Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs game preview
Getting Tony Parker healthy and back into the fold over the weekend was an important piece to the puzzle that's been the first 10 games of the San Antonio Spurs' season. Having Danny Green, his backcourt running mate, alongside him is pretty important as well.
The Spurs will have their starting backcourt intact for just the second time this season on Monday, when they host the Miami Heat at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Green was out with a left quad injury when the two teams squared off earlier this season in Miami, while Parker scored four points in San Antonio's 106-99 win.
Parker missed two of the Spurs' three losses with a right knee injury suffered in San Antonio's season-opening win at Golden State and played his second straight game on Saturday, when the Spurs went east down I-10 and beat Houston 106-100.
"We have to improve our defense for sure," Spurs veteran guard Manu Ginobili said after the win over Houston. "Everything starts there. We have the potential, and the personnel and the talent. Tony knows exactly what's going on -- he's still coming back but today he gave us some solutions."
The Spurs (7-3) have struggled at home, snapping a three-game losing streak at home on Friday against Detroit and then avenging an earlier home loss to Houston by beating the Rockets on Saturday.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said Parker helps to get the Spurs organized. Parker produced 16 points in 27 minutes against the Rockets.
"Tony hasn't been with us much so far this season, so having him for the stretch he played is a stability factor out on the perimeter," Popovich said after the Houston game. "That was a big help."
The Heat (2-6) are struggling this season, losing four straight games including Saturday's 102-91 defeat at home to Utah. Miami trailed by just five points entering the third quarter but missed its first 10 shots and scored a season-low 12 points in the period.
"I definitely wasn't expecting it, and that's not who we are and who we've been for the last month," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said after the Utah game. "It is disappointing. This league doesn't feel sorry for you, so we gather ourselves, get on a plane and head to San Antonio.
"We're not feeling great about the result right now, but we had been building each game and you felt that. Each game we had been building better habits, getting closer, making a step or two forward, and this is a half-step back."
Miami continues to be without point guard Goran DragicÂ´, who's missed the game against the Jazz after spraining his ankle the previous contest versus Chicago.
DragicÂ´ scored 25 points against the Spurs when the two teams played on Oct. 30.
Miami center Hassan Whiteside, who had 15 points and 14 rebounds against the Jazz, grabbed double-figure rebounds in each of the first eight games to start this season, marking the longest double-figure rebound streak to begin a season in team history. He is also the only player in the NBA this year to start the season grabbing double-digit rebounds in every game.
"We just got to keep working," Whiteside said. "It's not easy to win in this league. I see effort and we have the talent and we just got to keep working. It's all about attention to details. We all are continuing to learn."
Spoelstra said guard Wayne Ellington is also out for Monday's game but continues to improve from a right thigh contusion that has sidelined him since the last game of the preseason.
The Heat and Spurs meet for the second and final time this regular season. San Antonio currently owns a three-game win streak against the Heat in the Alamo City.
This will mark as the earliest the two teams will complete their season series in franchise history. The previous earliest was during the 2003-04 season, when they played their final matchup on Dec. 6. The Sours are 40-18 all-time against the Heat and owns a 25-3 edge on Miami in games played in San Antonio.