Dwayne Wade's decision to quit Miami Heat after 13 years with the franchise was always going to be a painful blow, but they might not have been aware that his absence would lead to an awful start to the season. The Heat lie 13th in the eastern conference standings, with two wins only, and they are in a desperate need of a victory after losing their last four matches on a trot.
Things do not look too easy for the Heat, who are set to face San Antonio Spurs on Monday. The Spurs, on the contrary, have been brilliant. They lie third on the western conference standings with three losses and seven wins. Despite their good record, Spurs have looked off colour, losing two out of their last three matches.
Talking about confidence, Spurs might be a little more confident as they defeated Houston Rockets in an important clash. The Heat suffered a loss to Utah Jazz in their last match.
Spurs and Heat are no strangers as they have already met earlier in the season, where the former emerged victorious 106-99. It was a brilliant all-round performance from the Spurs, with their big guns Kawhi Leonard and Pau Gasol shining brightly to win their the then fourth straight win.
The duo will once again be keen to destroy the Heat in front of the home fans, who always expect their stars like Leonard and Gasol to fire. Besides the duo, they have LeMarcus Aldridge, who is another imposing figure for the Spurs. These men, if they get their game right, can trouble teams with their powerful approach.
Add the experience of Tony Parker into the mix, they look an even deadly combination. They look even a stronger team when their point guard enjoys a good game on the floor. With Leonard averaging 25.6 ppg, the forward will be instrumental against the Heat, who will hope to stun the Spurs.
The Heat, unlike Warriors, do not have the services of major stars and will rely on Hassan Whiteside, who has been one of the best players for the franchise this season. The centre has been strong on the defensive and the offensive board, but the question remains, can he stop the Spurs stars from scoring big?
It is not only Whiteside, but also other players need to stand up and deliver for the Heat to flourish as an away side, which is not going to be easy with the fans rooting for Spurs.
Where to Watch Live
San Antonio Spurs vs Miami Heat is set to begin at 8.30pm local time (1.30am GMT, 7am IST next day). Live Streaming and TV guide for the NBA game is below.
India: TV: Sony Six and Sony Six HD. Live Streaming: Sonyliv
UK: TV: BT Sport. Live Streaming: Watch BT Sport
International: NBA Online
USA: NBA League Pass