Maybe, just maybe, the Miami Heat
are rolling once again.
There hasn’t been any crying in South Florida the past four days as the Heat have posted consecutive impressive home wins against the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies.
These victories came following five consecutive losses, a streak some thought impossible from a team featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
But now another major test comes for the Heat courtesy of the San Antonio Spurs, owners of the best record in the NBA at 54-12. No other team has fewer than 17 losses and more than 47 victories.
The Heat host San Antonio Monday night at 5:05 PT with ESPN televising.
Miami’s mental toughness came into question, not to mention its status as an elite team, during the five-game losing streak that included a blown 24-point home lead to Orlando, a 30-point road loss to the Spurs and a one-point home loss to Chicago that left some players in tears.
During this five-game skid, Miami averaged 91.8 points. That’s 10 points down from their 101.6 season average per game.
Then, in perhaps their most crucial game of the season, the Heat defeated the Lakers, 94-88, this past Thursday as one-point home ‘dogs. The Lakers brought an eight-game winning streak into the matchup.
Now the Heat appear back on track following their most impressive showing of the year, destroying Memphis, 118-85, on Saturday night as 7 ½-point home favorites. The combined 203 points went ‘over’ the 197-point total.
Wade and James enjoyed huge games in the blowout. James scored 27 points despite sitting out the fourth quarter. Wade had a dazzling line of 28 points, nine assists, five rebounds and five blocked shots. The last guard to have statistics like that in a game was Michael Jordan in 1988.
Perhaps lost in the glare of Wade and James was recently acquired veteran point guard Mike Bibby. He produced 17 points and four assists in 25 minutes while connecting on all five of his shots from beyond the arc.
Bibby’s presence has aided starting point guard Mario Chalmers, who is shooting 47 percent from the field and 53 percent from three-point territory during the last five games.
As criticized as the Heat have been this season, they still were within 2 ½ games of Boston for the top spot in the Eastern Conference going into Sunday’s action.
Miami also clinched a postseason berth with 17 games remaining, the earliest it has accomplished that feat in franchise history.
San Antonio keeps winning but hasn’t been highly motivated. The Spurs are 8-3 in their last 11 games, but just 3-8 ATS.
The Spurs did cover in their last game, defeating Houston this past Saturday, 115-107, as one-point road underdogs. The combined 222 points went ‘over’ the 211-point total.
The Rockets had won seven of their first nine games following the All-Star break going into their matchup against San Antonio. Tony Parker led the Spurs with 21 points. Manu Ginobili chipped in 19 points while Antonio McDyess had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
San Antonio has covered in eight of its last 11 road contests. The Spurs conclude a three-game road trip at Dallas on Friday giving them three days off following this matchup.
The Spurs buried the Heat, 125-95, when they hosted them on March 4. San Antonio was 2 ½-point favorites and the combined 220 points went ‘over’ the 195 ½-point total.
The Spurs hit a record 17 3-pointers in the victory. The Heat may still have been in a funk losing to Orlando the night before after blowing a 24-point lead.
The ‘under’ has cashed in six of the past seven times Miami has met a team with a winning record. The ‘over’ has cashed in six of San Antonio’s last seven games.