Leonard leading the way for Spurs again
Miami lost its home opener by blowing a 19-point lead against Charlotte. Will Erik Spoelstra’s group recover in time for the vaunted Spurs’ arrival?
Gregg Popovich’s crew hits South Beach tonight, with a 6 p.m. ET tip at American Airlines Arena. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives San Antonio odds of -275 to triumph. The Heat, on the other hand, represent +225 underdogs.
Friday’s 97-91 defeat at the hands of the Hornets told a markedly different story than Miami’s first tilt of the 2016-17 season. Hassan Whiteside & Co. pounded Orlando, 108-96, momentarily lifting spirits during a transitional period for the franchise. With no Chris Bosh (blood clots) on whom to lean, however, Spoelstra’s main man in the middle still needs to find a suitable running mate. Perhaps Goran Dragic eventually fills that role, but the guard’s shooting only 38.1 percent on two-pointers thus far.
The Spurs (3-0), of course, are cruising in spite of Tim Duncan’s absence. The perennial All-Star opted to retire after last year’s playoff run, leaving LaMarcus Aldridge to handle the majority of the low-post duties in the Lone Star State. While No. 12’s relished said challenge, Kawhi Leonard continues to serve as the team’s undisputed top threat. The San Diego State product just became the first player since ‘70s standout World B. Free to commence a campaign with two straight 30-point, five-steal contests.
More sour news for the host club: Venerable veterans Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili sat out Saturday’s 98-79 victory over New Orleans. They’ll have plenty of juice in a few hours, giving San Antonio a boatload of options with which to dominate in the halfcourt. Bank on a relatively easy W for Popovich’s gang.
SUNDAY NBA FREE PICK: SPURS -7