Spurs vs. Heat preview: Can San Antonio turn in a perfect road trip?

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

LeBron James and the Miami Heat (10-3) host Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs (13-3) in prime time on Thursday night at 8 p.m. on TNT. The Heat are undefeated at home so far this season.

On Thursday night in prime time (8 p.m., TNT), something will have to give in the matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat. Tim Duncan and the Spurs own the best road record in the NBA (9-1) and they are trying to wrap up a six-game road trip with a perfect record, but LeBron James and the Heat are tied with the Utah Jazz for the best home record in the association (6-0).

Will the Heat defense hold up? Miami and San Antonio both boast top-5 offenses -- the Heat are No. 2 at 110.3 points per 100 possessions, while the Spurs are No. 4 at a 105.9 offensive rating -- but defense has held back LeBron and company early in the season. How have the Heat fallen to No. 23 in defense this year? Miami has allowed opponents to shoot 36.6 percent from deep and hoist an NBA-high 24.0 three-point attempts per game. The Spurs are No. 9 in the NBA at converting threes (37.5%), Matt Bonner is the top specialist in the NBA to-date. He's hit 63.2 percent of his threes (12-of-19), and Danny Green is hitting 38.0 of his triples while take 5.1 attempts per contest.

How will the Spurs defend pick-and-roll? Greg Popovich has his team playing great defense this year, and the No. 1 mark in preventing points on isolation plays (0.57 points per possession) is a good sign, but pick-and-rolls and spot-ups are where the Spurs tend to struggle. According to MySynergySports, San Antonio's 0.81 ppp allowed on pick-and-roll ranks No. 21 in the NBA, and their 1.01 ppp given up on spot-ups is good for No. 23 overall.

LeBron and Wade have the Heat offense humming on PnR opportunities (No. 1 in the NBA at 1.34 ppp), while Ray Allen and company have worked well as spot-up options when primary PnR action breaks down (No. 2 rank at 1.13 ppp). Can the Spurs stop LeBron, Wade and Bosh on pick-and-roll? Even if they do hold up initially, can they also stay close enough to bother Ray Allen and Mike Miller on secondary spot-up looks along the three-point line? It's a tall task.

The Spurs might have to simply outgun the Heat on Thursday night if they want to come home from their road trip with a perfect 6-0 mark.

Game Time: 8 p.m. ET

TV: TNT

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.