Dominating play at home is one reason for that.
After reaching 50 wins for the 12th consecutive season, the Spurs will again try to overcome the absence of the injured Tony Parker(notes) to push their record home winning streak to 22 against the Heat on Friday night.
With LeBron James(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes) having joined Dwyane Wade(notes), Miami (43-18) leads the Southeast Division and is second in the Eastern Conference behind Boston. However, the Spurs (50-11) own the best overall record and a 5 1/2-game cushion over Dallas in the West.
That success has been sparked by San Antonio’s 28-2 record at the AT&T Center, where they have won a franchise-record 21 straight—the longest such streak since James spurred Cleveland to a 23-0 home start in 2008-09.
The Spurs have had little trouble prevailing when hosting the Heat, taking 21 of 23 all-time. They pounded Miami 108-78 in the most recent meeting in San Antonio on Dec. 31, 2009, before sweeping the season series with an 88-76 victory March 16 in Miami.
To continue that success, San Antonio will need to overcome a third consecutive game without Parker, who could miss up to four weeks with a left calf injury. The Spurs have split two games without him as George Hill(notes) has stepped in at point guard.
Hill is averaging 11.3 points and 2.4 assists while starting three games in 2010-11, but he came up big Wednesday by scoring 22 points with five assists and five rebounds in a 109-99 road victory over the Cavaliers. He had just six points in Tuesday’s 109-93 loss at Memphis.
Hill has been impressive while helping the Spurs win three in a row versus the Heat, averaging 14.7 points on 60.9 percent shooting.
Despite its star-studded lineup, Miami is only 14-16 against teams at or above .500. The team is 0-2 to start a stretch of 11 consecutive games versus teams with winning records, including five against current division leaders and two against San Antonio.
The Heat turned in perhaps their most disappointing performance of the season Thursday, falling 99-96 to Orlando after having a 24-point, third-quarter lead erased by the Magic’s stunning 40-9 run.
“The urgency is there,” said Wade, who had 28 points. “Just got to finish it. We enjoy these games. We play them hard. … It’s growing pains and it (stinks). You look for the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Wade was limited to 16 points and committed seven turnovers in the Heat’s most recent visit to San Antonio. However, he’ll have some assistance this time from James, who is averaging 32.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.3 assists over his last eight meetings with the Spurs, winning six while with Cleveland.
Bosh continues to struggle from the field, making 31.7 percent of his shots and averaging 13.8 points with 8.5 rebounds over the last four games. He had 32 points and 10 boards in Toronto’s 131-124 loss on Nov. 9, 2009 in San Antonio.