Heat vs. Spurs preview: Unselfish play in 2 different ways

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The Miami Heat play the Spurs in San Antonio and the league's two least-selfish teams fight for the best record.

The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs have ownership of each of their respective conferences. As for which team is the best in the league, regular season records separated by two full games will make the two teams' meeting Sunday in San Antonio a chance for either to flex their muscle in one of the NBA's most gripping power struggles.

This year, both teams find themselves at the summit because each plays basketball as selflessly as can be in the current NBA.

Where teams jostle around while hoping to bring superstars to their squads in the Heat's image, none can replicate LeBron James' unselfishness that routinely subsides only at the perfect moment, when he takes over in every which way to assure a Miam win. James' ability to turn in five to 10 minutes of pure domination -- from scoring, to passing, to defensive stops -- every night was a reason for that 27-game winning streak.

He's coming off a loss-fueled, 36-point performance against the New Orleans Hornets. Behind a 7-of-10 shooting performance from three-point range, James led Miami to a 108-89 win on Friday, one game after the Heat's streak came to an abrupt end in Chicago.

Meanwhile, the Spurs haven't followed the same blueprint toward success, but it's still a mighty good one. Tony Parker will play in only his fifth game after recovering from an ankle injury, yet without their darkhorse MVP candidate, San Antonio hardly skipped a beat.

With Parker, the Spurs come into Sunday on a two-game winning streak against Western Conference playoff teams in the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers.

And unlike that Spurs-Heat game earlier this season that netted Spurs coach Gregg Popovich a stern message from the commissioner regarding his decision to sit Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green, it's expected that all will be available aside from Ginobili, who is out with a hamstring injury.

Offensive unselfishness

The Spurs enter Sunday as the league's fourth-highest scoring team behind their excellent shot distribution and spread attack that's not single-handedly predicated on the aging Duncan or the penetration of Parker. San Antonio ranks No. 1 in the NBA in assists per game.

Miami has the best offensive rating in the league of 112.7 points per 100 possessions, according to Basketball-Reference.com. Likewise, the Heat's role players and spread offensive scheme places them among the three-best three-point shooting teams in the NBA.

Time: 7 p.m. ET


Odds: The Spurs opened as 1.5-point favorites.

More from SB Nation:

SB Nation's Q&A with Al Horford

The Suns are terrible at pretending not to tank

Don't compare the Heat to a team from 1972

Kobe gets away with game-changing foul | NBA admits mistake

The Celtics and their next generation GM

The best NBA draft prospects of March Madness

Log In Sign Up

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.




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.