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NBA East Round-Up; Spurs and Heat Do Battle Tonight in South Beach

LeBron James

James and the Heat host the Spurs tonight in Miami.

Current Division Leaders in the East: Atlantic- New York/Brooklyn, Southeast -Miami, Central- Milwaukee

There are only two games on the NBA slate this evening and only one involving an Eastern Conference team. That ‘one’ however is a pretty big one as San Antonio plays at Miami in a battle of two of the league’s best teams. We’ll get to that game shortly, but first let’s take a spin around the Eastern Conference.

Around the East…The Philadelphia 76ers snapped a six-game slide with a 100-98 win over visiting Dallas Tuesday night. Evan Turner led the Sixers with 22 points… The Indiana Pacers pulled off a great 79-77 road win in Los Angeles Tuesday night despite 40 from the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant who obviously didn’t get a lot of help from his teammates. Either way, that’s a great win for the Pacers… Right now the Eastern Conference has only four teams atop most NBA Power Polls. The Heat, Knicks, Nets and Hawks are all in there but it’s clear they are struggling behind the Western Conference in overall power right now… Despite just four teams in that echelon, most of the individual rankings are led by guys from the East. Anderson Verajao leads in rebounding, Rajon Rondo leads in assists, Roy Hibbert in blocks, Tyson Chandler in field goal percentage and Brandon Jennings in steals. Obviously the East has talent, but the overall depth of the West right now cannot be matched.

Games for tonight

Manu Ginobili

Can Ginobili and the Spurs knock off the Heat in Miami tonight?

San Antonio at Miami – As I mentioned, this is the only game in town involving an Eastern Conference member as the Heat host the Spurs. The first thing to take note of in this one is rest. San Antonio played last night in Orlando and takes the court less than 24 hours later against the NBA’s defending champions. Miami meanwhile, has not played a game since Saturday night when they knocked off Cleveland by two.

The rest for the Heat came at a good time with Dwayne Wade ailing a bit and Shane Battier expected to miss a few games with a knee issue. As is always the case, some will argue the Heat may have too much time off heading into this one while the Spurs will be ready to go with such a quick turnaround.

As we delve into who has the edge on the court, let’s start with defense. The Spurs are 10th in the league in points allowed at 95.5 while the Heat rank 25th at 100.3 points per game. Give the edge to the Spurs there as well as in rebounding where both teams are in the lower half of the NBA in total rebounding. Gregg Popovich’s teams typically play good defense and the Heat have improved in that department as well.

Offensively, Miami leads the Association with 104.8 points per game while San Antonio is fifth at 102.1. The Spurs and Heat rank first and fourth respectively in assists per game as well which tells you they move the ball around well and find guys for lots of high-percentage shots. When you have two teams that are this evenly matched then it often comes down to individual match-ups. With no Battier to play defense, does that open more doors for Manu Ginobili? Does Ray Allen get more looks? Hard to say, but you can bet on a nice confrontation between Tim Duncan and Chris Bosh for sure in the paint.

A lot more of my thinking goes back to my original point. With the Spurs being a relatively older team, will the quick turnaround affect them negatively? Although I think this will be an excellent game, I like a rested LeBron to have a big night on a big stage as this will be the only gameon TV at the time. Take the Heat in a classic tight one here in Miami.


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