The Spurs continue to be plagued by an inability to maintain comfortable leads at home
The Spurs being the youngest team in the league is going to keep getting pointed out all season long because it’s true, but it doesn’t make their repeated mistakes any less frustrating. In a pattern that has become all too familiar to the Frost Bank Center crowd, the Spurs started strong (something they have done much better at home than on the road), built a double-digit lead, and then proceeded to throw it away by taking their foot off the gas and getting sloppy with the ball.
Facing a shorthanded Miami Heat team, which was missing Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro, and on the second night of a back-to-back, the Spurs played swarming defense and were patient looking for the right shots early, finishing the first quarter up 29-15 while the Heat generally looked asleep at the wheel. They held Miami to just 6 field goals while hitting 12 of their own, including 3 threes.
The Spurs stretched the lead to 19 a couple of times in the second quarter, both on Malaki Branham threes, but as has been the case all season, they just couldn’t maintain the level of play that got them there. After leading 42-24, the Spurs started settling for jumpers while the Heat woke up on both ends and went on a 17-0 run in a matter of minutes to get back within one before a Doug McDermott three and Jeremy Sochan jumper briefly stopped the bleeding. Jimmy Butler later tied things up at 47 apiece before the Spurs scored six of the final nine points of the quarter for a 53-30 halftime lead.
Then came the dreaded third quarter, which has often been the one that either makes or breaks the Spurs. Consecutive threes from Sochan and Keldon Johnson a few minutes in briefly get the lead back to double digits at 69-59, but again the Heat responded with an 18-5 run to retake the lead for the first time since the opening bucket of the game. Still, the Spurs didn’t fold and responded back. They survived a 12-point spurt from Kevin Love in the final three minutes of the quarter with threes from Victor Wembanyama, Cedi Osman and a four-point play from Branham and entered the final frame up 84-82. Even though they technically lost the quarter by a point, compared to recent third quarter performances, they’ll take it.