Sports

Spurs, Heat meet in Finals rematch

(SportsNetwork.com) - In a rematch of the last two NBA Finals, the defending champion San Antonio Spurs visit American Airlines Arena to face the Miami Heat Tuesday night.

The Spurs are next up to clinch a playoff berth in the Western Conference. They are sixth in the standings, but it gets complicated due to the fact that Portland will be guaranteed a top-four seed if it wins the Northwest Division. San Antonio is 1 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers, so basically, it is pegged into either the fifth or sixth seed, although, Dallas is 2 1/2 behind at No. 7.

The Heat are in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference, 1 1/2 games in front of both the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets, but just 1 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks, who are sixth.

The Spurs demolished the Heat in last year's Finals and has been demolishing teams of late. San Antonio has won six of its last seven, including three in a row, all at home.

The Spurs knocked off the Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies and all three were by double figures. San Antonio's average margin of victory during this run has been 23.6 points.

On Sunday, San Antonio took care of the Grizzlies, 103-89.

Kawhi Leonard scored 15 of his game-high 25 points over a six-minute stretch in the final frame, helping the surging Spurs pull away.

Tony Parker added 17 points -- 15 of which came in the second half -- and Tiago Splitter had 15 points along with eight rebounds in a game San Antonio never trailed, though it didn't draw clear until crunch time.

The Grizzlies were down just 70-66 entering the fourth, but couldn't stop Leonard or the Spurs -- who shot a torrid 72.2 percent over the last 12 minutes -- down the stretch.

Leonard hit two free throws and sank a turnaround jumper to quickly push the lead to eight. He then buried two more baskets after Jeff Green drained a 3- pointer to give San Antonio a 78-69 advantage.

"We went to him and he went to himself," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said of Leonard. "He was rolling and he felt it."

The Spurs finish this trip through Florida on Wednesday against the Orlando Magic.

The Heat have won two of three and five straight as the host.

On Sunday, Miami toppled the Detroit Pistons, 109-102, thanks to the greatest Heat player of all time.

Dwyane Wade poured in 40 points and the Heat held off a second-half rally from Detroit. Wade, who was questionable entering the game after having fluid drained from his knee on Saturday, scored 19 points in the fourth quarter to preserve Miami's victory.

Udonis Haslem added 18 points and 13 rebounds, and James Ennis scored 16 points to tie a career high.

"We're just taking the last-man-standing approach," said Haslem. "It just so happens that I'm the last man standing."

The injuries are piling up for the Heat and the Pistons' victory came at a price. Miami lost forward Luol Deng in the first half with a knee contusion and is questionable.

Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts are, of course, out. Shabazz Napier (hip) is doubtful, while Deng, Hassan Whiteside (right hand), Chris Andersen (left calf) and Michael Beasley (right elbow) are questionable versus the Spurs.

At least Wade is probable.

Miami faces LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday to start a three-game road trip which also takes the Heat to Detroit and Indiana.

The Spurs beat the Heat in San Antonio on Feb. 6, but the Heat have won five of the last seven regular-season meetings.