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Heat, Spurs hook up

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MIAMI HEAT (57-15) at SAN ANTONIO SPURS (55-17)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Spurs -1.5 & 198

The top two teams in the NBA square off on Easter Sunday when the Western Conference-leading Spurs host a Heat team with the best record in the league.

Miami's 27-game win streak ended on Wednesday night, but the team bounced back with a resounding 108-89 thumping at New Orleans on Friday. The Heat shot 61% from the floor (52% threes) in that win over the Hornets, increasing their offensive numbers to 104.8 PPG, 52% FG and 45% threes over the past nine games. San Antonio's 104-102 win over the Clippers on Friday made the team 10-3 SU in the month of March, but the non-cover saddles the club with a 1-7 ATS record in its past eight contests. The Heat have won each of the past three contests (all at home), including a 105-100 victory on Nov. 29 in Miami when Gregg Popovich left most of his star players at home -- Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green. However, the Spurs are 12-1 SU (9-3-1 ATS) when hosting the Heat since 1997, crushing them 125-95 the last time they met at AT&T Center on March 4, 2011.

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Miami leads the Eastern Conference with 103.5 PPG, paces the entire league with a 49.4 FG clip and ranks second in the NBA in long-range shooting (39.3% threes). This team is also strong on the defensive end, holding teams to 95.5 PPG (7th in NBA) and 44.1% FG (8th in league) on 35.0% threes (10th in NBA). SF LeBron James (26.9 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 7.3 APG) continues to be the best player on the planet, scoring at least 22 points in each of his past 10 games, where he's averaged 29.2 PPG (56% FG, 43% threes), 8.4 RPG and 8.3 APG. His numbers are similar when facing the Spurs in his career, where he's averaged 27.9 PPG (51% FG), 7.1 RPG and 6.4 APG in 17 games. SG Dwyane Wade (21.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 5.0 APG) has also enjoyed facing the Spurs with 24.9 PPG, 5.9 APG and 4.9 RPG, but he's also committed a troubling 4.4 TOPG in 14 career games against them. Wade has scored in double-figures in 58 straight games, but is averaging just 16.2 PPG, despite 48% FG, over his past five contests, failing to score 20 in any of these games. PF Chris Bosh (16.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG) has also had a rough stretch with just 12.6 PPG on 40% FG with 5.8 RPG in the past five contests. But Bosh has played exceptionally well in this series over the past four seasons, scoring 24.8 PPG (55% FG) and 11.8 RPG in these six meetings with the Spurs. PG Mario Chalmers (8.5 PPG, 3.4 APG) missed Friday's game with an ankle injury, but he could return on Sunday. He hasn't done much against San Antonio in eight career meetings though, scoring 7.1 PPG (45% FG) with 3.8 APG. Both PG Norris Cole (12 points, +10 rating) and SG Ray Allen (six points, +20 rating) gave Miami great minutes off the bench on Friday.

San Antonio ranks fourth in the league with 104.3 PPG on a hefty 48.7% FG (2nd in NBA) and 38.3% threes (3rd in league), set up by an NBA-best 25.2 APG. The Spurs also rank among the top defenses in the league in all three categories, allowing 96.5 PPG (11th in NBA), 44.2% FG (9th in league) and 34.1% threes (6th in NBA). The one area of weakness for this club is rebounding, as it ranks 22nd in total rebounds (40.9 RPG) and 19th in rebounding margin (minus-1.3 RPG). PG Tony Parker (21.0 PPG, 7.6 APG) has been incredible after missing eight games with a sprained ankle, averaging 21.8 PPG (53% FG) and 7.8 APG in four games since returning. He's also been solid against the Heat in his career, averaging 15.5 PPG on 52% FG with 5.6 APG in 19 meetings. PF Tim Duncan (17.6 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.7 BPG) has been playing outstanding basketball in his past six games with 24.7 PPG, 12.2 RPG and 3.3 BPG. He is coming off a 34-point explosion in Friday's win over the Clippers, and has averaged 18.9 PPG and 11.6 RPG in 25 career games versus the Heat. SG Manu Ginobili (11.9 PPG, 4.6 APG) has been a complete non-factor since Parker's return to action, scoring just 4.8 PPG on 7-of-25 FG (28%) in the past four games. SF Kawhi Leonard (11.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG) had been thriving in the first three games of Parker's return with 14.7 PPG (59% FG) and 7.0 RPG, but scored just four points (2-of-6 FG) in 32 minutes on Friday. SG Danny Green (10.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG) has been streaky all season, and currently on another roller-coaster run with 9, 15, 9, 20 and 6 points over his past five games. C Tiago Splitter (10.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG) has played well recently, averaging 11.2 PPG and 6.4 RPG in his past five contests.

  
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David: 2013 Bad Beats
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