Spurs (3-0) vs. Miami Heat (2-1)
When, where: 7 p.m., Wednesday, Miami
Season series: First meeting
Last meeting: Spurs 94, Heat 90, Nov. 14, 2016, AT&T Center
Spurs’ last game: Beat Raptors 101-97, Monday, AT&T Center
Heat’s last game: Beat Hawks, 104-93, Monday, Miami
Notable: LaMarcus Aldridge is the only other Spur besides David Robinson (1997-98) to have 20-plus points and 8-plus rebounds in each of his first three games of the season.
The Spurs are doing more than holding down the fort while All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard and veteran point guard Tony Parker continue to rehabilitate quadriceps injuries.
Although only three games into the grind of the long NBA season, the Silver and Black haven’t looked much different than the 2016-17 that went 61-21.
Not that anybody thought the Spurs would collapse without Leonard and Parker, mind you. But the emergence of 21-year-old point guard Dejounte Murray and the resurgence of veteran forward LaMarcus Aldridge has made San Antonio a formidable opponent.
“I think we’re trying to play together again, to get to know each other, to play without Kawhi, to have Dejounte at the point guard,” guard Manu Ginobili said after Monday night’s 101-97 home victory against the Toronto Raptors. “Even though he did it in the playoffs last year, he’s still new.
“Our second unit, we have two very important additions with Rudy (Gay) and Joffrey (Lauvergne), and we are trying to get in our passing game, hitting the open teammate and getting to know the opponent. It’s been three games. We need, I think, 15 more games to get to that comfort level in which we trust and we know what our teammate’s going to do.”
Murray, a second-year pro, had a stellar game in the win over the Raptors, finishing with 15 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists. He has averaged 13.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists in San Antonio's first three games.
Murray has 10-plus rebounds in two of three games this season. He is the first Spurs point guard to record multiple double-digit games in a season since Rod Strickland’s two in 1989-90. The double-double Monday night was the first of Murray’s NBA career.
Asked if the game has slowed down for him, Murray smiled and said: “I’ve got a long way to go. I ain’t going to sit here and talk to you like I’m a veteran. I’ve got to learn everything, but it’s going in the right direction.”
Murray, 21, drew chuckles from reporters when he was asked if his rapid development has made him feel older than his age.
“I’m 21,” he said, chuckling himself. “I ain’t going ahead. Let me enjoy my year.”
Murray, who is 6-foot-5 and has a 7-foot wingspan, has given opponents headaches on both ends of the court with his length and court instincts.
“Long, athletic, got those arms,” said guard Danny Green, who scored 17 points and tied his career high in blocks with five. “He’s very active. Also, defensively he’s deflecting passes, altering shots, chasing guys down and making them feel him.
“We’re going to need that from him and we need him being active on the glass. Push the pace offensively, be more efficient and poised, and get guys in sets. He’s doing a better job of that, being confident on the floor.”
Aldridge, a five-time All-Star, signed a three-year, $72.3 million contract extension with the Spurs on the day before their season opener.
Looking more comfortable in the team’s offense and playing with a little more bounce in his step, Aldridge is averaging 24.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.7 blocks. He has led the Silver and Black in scoring in each of their first three games.
Lauvergne (sprained ankle), Leonard and Parker are all out for Wednesday night’s game and did not travel with the team.
Popovich has not set a timetable for Leonard’s return, and Parker could be back by early December. Leonard is out with tendinopathy in his right quadriceps, and Parker is recovering from surgery to repair a ruptured tendon in his left quadriceps.
Before he rejoins the team, the Spurs will send Parker to their G-League affiliate in Austin for a rehab assignment, ESPN's Marc Spears has reported.
Next game for the Spurs after Wednesday night: at Orlando, Friday, 6 p.m.
Next Spurs home game: vs. Golden State, Thursday, Nov. 2, 7 p.m.