Just a preseason game, but when it’s a rematch between the teams of the last two NBA finals, the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, there’s always something extra to it, with Shabazz Napier impressive in a 111-108 win for the Heat.
Napier, who most think of as someone who was selected just because of the LeBron James connection in a failed attempt to keep him in Miami during the offseason, is also someone who has two NCAA titles with UConn, being the best player of the Final Four last year. He isn’t just a peace offering to an unhappy player, even if it’s going to take some time to see him preform at a high level on a consistent basis.
Napier finished with 25 points in the overtime win, including the last four free throws in overtime to seal the win. He came off the bench while Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole started together in the absence of Dwyane Wade. While Wade isn’t planning on resting so much next season, this might not be such a rare look to see in the Heat’s backcourt, especially with Miami lacking a bit when it comes to a backup shooting guard.
Wade wasn’t the only player who was missing – Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Chris Andersen were also out on rest. That gave Danny Granger (11 points) a chance to play in the lineup, and also Udonis Haslem fill the center position. Tyler Johnson and Andre Dawkins looked good off the bench with 33 points.
The Spurs were missing Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker, as they started with Cory Joseph, Kyle Anderson and Danny Green in the backcourt, while Tim Duncan teamed up with Matt Bonner up front. Anderson, who is one of the more interesting picks in this draft, had a very good game with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Marco Belinelli was very good off the bench, scoring 17 points, including a 3-pointer that tied the game, sending it to overtime.
The Spurs are betting on the same exact team from last year along with the rookie Anderson out of UCLA to make a run for the title, hoping to finally make it a repeat after failing to on the five previous times. The Miami heat have taken a more radical approach to offseason change, which isn’t completely their fault considering James took up and left. At least for the preseason, it’s working better for them.