The San Antonio Spurs have settled into a groove and a rotation that’s helped them win nine of their last 11 games.
Exactly how comfortable they are will be put to the test when the Spurs visit the Southeast Division-leading Miami Heat.
San Antonio has won seven of the past eight meetings with Miami, including a 98-84 victory on Dec. 7 over a Heat team missing an injured Shaquille O’Neal. The superstar center will be available for the rematch.
The Spurs are riding a three-game winning streak, including Wednesday’s 95-92 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
“Everybody is more organized and feels comfortable,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “They have a better idea of whey they’re coming into the game and how long they will play.”
Arguably the biggest contribution, though, came from reserve guard Michael Finley. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers and four free throws in the final three minutes.
Finley, who lost his starting spot to Ginobili last week, tied a season high with 21 points.
“I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to make the perfect pass or hit all of my jumpers,” Finley said. “I am just trying to make the game come to me right now.”
Finley has scored in double figures in all three games since returning to a reserve role. He failed to do so in any of his final four games in the starting lineup, a stretch during which he was 5-of-25 (20 percent) from the field.
Ginobili has averaged 17.0 points and 6.3 assists in three games back as a starter.
One of Ginobili’s top priorities in this contest will be trying to slow down Dwyane Wade.
The All-Star guard has scored more than 30 points in four of his last five games, though he did miss practice Wednesday with a sore ankle. Wade is expected to play Friday.
His 34 points were not enough on Monday as Miami had a four-game winning streak snapped with a 100-92 road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. O’Neal had 18 points and 10 rebounds in his return to Los Angeles.
The Heat now begin a four-game homestand after going 4-3 on a seven-game road trip.
“It was a decent trip. This team came together although we lost today,” Wade said. “We started a little slow but we played well since the first two games of this trip. So I think we have a lot of confidence going back. We aren’t really looking at our record right now, but how we play every night.”