The San Antonio Spurs, just like in the NBA Finals, are still a lot better than the Miami Heat as their records and the 95-81 road win suggested. But things are very different compared to the slightly anti climatic series we got 10 months ago.
The Heat are probably going to make the NBA playoffs, but their hopes of going very far in it are gone, especially with the amount of injuries they have and overall, the inferior talent they have compared to most of the field they have to play with. The Spurs? They had a rough patch through February that cost them dearly, but they’re doing their best to make up for it.
The combination of Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker continues to be deadly for teams facing the Spurs, finishing March with a 12-3 record. Leonard scored 22 points (19.3 per game in March) and Parker added 16 (18.2 in March) as the two continued to lead the Spurs offensively, which is probably the best approach considering the state of Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, possibly just resting up and reserving energy for the playoffs.
The best thing to happen to the Miami Heat all game long? Mario Chalmers sinking a buzzer beater from half court at the half, and the face Gregg Popovich made while watching the shot go in. Chris Andersen and Hassan Whiteside are back which means the Heat actually have centers and power forwards, but Luol Deng wasn’t playing, and maybe small ball is a better approach for them.
Either way, Dwyane Wade seems to be going through the motions and his 42-point performance this week took a toll on him, finishing with just 6-of-20 from the field, scoring 15 points. Goran Dragic was the best player in Heat uniform with 19 points, but overall it felt like the Heat were never going to catch up with a Spurs team that for most of the night was playing at a higher level of basketball.
The win for the Spurs makes things very interesting in the West. They are still sixth, but only 0.5 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers and the Portland Trail Blazers. The Spurs have played one game less than the Clippers, while the Blazers have two games less than the Clippers, most likely to finish fourth when it’s time for the final count. The Mavs, three games behind San Antonio, are going to finish 7th.
And the Heat? They’re 7th in the East with a 34-40 record. Wherever they finish doesn’t really matter to them, as long as it’s in the playoffs. Right now they’re one game ahead of the Celtics (33-41), two ahead of the Indiana Pacers (32-42) and 2.5 ahead of the Charlotte Hornets (31-42). Compared to the four previous year this season is a debacle, but a closer look at the circumstances and situation might suggest it’s actually quite an achievement the Heat haven’t fallen off even further.