Last time the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs met, Manu Ginobili and the Spurs blew out the Heat 125-95 in Miami's worst defeat of the season.
Tony Parker made a surprise comeback from injury to help lead the NBA-best Spurs to an embarrassing defeat for the Heat, who went on to drop two more games after that in a season-worst five-game loosing streak.
Since then, Miami has got back on track with two straight victories, both against Western Conference playoff teams in Los Angeles and Memphis.
The Heat will look to make it a third straight win over a Western Conference opponent with their second and final match-up against the NBA-leading Spurs that will be a redemption game for Miami.
The Heat are 0-9 against the league's top four teams and are looking to erase all the flack they have received for that unimpressive feat.
But, Miami will have to be on top of their game if they are going to knock off the Spurs this time around. Here is a breakdown of the pivotal rematch between the two title hopefuls.
For the Heat to be victorious in this game, they will need a full team effort, similar to the one they had in their victory over Memphis on Saturday.
In addition to the 73 points that the Heat got from the Big Three, they also received 36 points off the bench and every active player on Miami's roster scored a basket.
If the Heat can repeat that type of fluidity and get major contributions from the team's role players, they should be in good shape.
The Spurs are very good at playing team ball and have excellent chemistry, which is a large reason for their success. The Heat will need to match that type of play to get a W tonight.
In the team's first matchup, San Antonio came out of the gates firing, outscoring Miami 36-12 in the first quarter, which set the tone for the game.
So, whichever team can set the tone early on in this game will have the best opportunity to win.
Miami will be fired up on their homecourt and be looking for revenge against the Spurs after their embarrassing loss earlier this month. Look for the Heat to attack early and often as they will look to set the tempo.
San Antonio will also look to set the tone early with their defense as they know Miami will be in attack mode. They are a veteran ball club and know that a fast start is crucial in this game.
Both teams are lethal three-point shooting teams that contain many weapons from beyond the arc. The Spurs and the Heat both rank in the top 10 in the league in three-point shooting, with San Antonio leading the league at 40.1 percent and Miami coming in at eighth at 37.1 percent.
A large part of the reason Miami was crushed the first time around was because they allowed the Spurs to nail 17 three-pointers in the game. Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal and Manu Ginobili can all knock down the long ball.
A good thing for the Heat is that they usually defend well beyond the arc as they are ranked sixth in the league in opponent three-point percentage, limiting teams to 33.8 percent per game.
Whoever gives up more long balls will probably be on the losing end of this contest.
Everyone knows how deadly Miami is in transition. When the Heat force turnovers and get the ball down the court fast, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade take over and showcase high-octane offense.
With the Spurs being a very old team, they will have trouble keeping up with the Heat if they get the ball out on the open floor. Last time the two clubs met, Miami only had three steals in the game, which was another reason they were routed.
Miami will need to play good defense, force turnovers and then play good transition offense if they want to win this rematch with the Spurs.
The Heat and Spurs are nine and 10 in the league respectively in least amount of turnovers per game. So, whoever wins the turnover battle will likely come out on top in this game.
In San Antonio's 30-point steam roll of Miami, Tony Parker outplayed and demolished Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers.
He slashed through the defense, got into the interior and exposed one of the Heat's biggest flaws—defending elite point guards.
Parker penetrated Miami's defense as he easily blew by Bibby and Chalmers. If he has his way, the Spurs will most likely win this game.
The Heat will need to swarm the ball and make sure the Spurs halfcourt offense isn't as effective as last time around. Bibby and Chalmers will need to play better defense. Parker will most likely get around them either way, so the help defense will have to be there.
At the very least, Bibby and Chalmers can be effective with their three-point shooting and contribute highly on the offensive side.
The Heat have won their last two games primarily due to their increased aggressiveness on both sides of the ball (mainly offense).
If the Heat play less one-one-one ball and switch up their offensive sets, they will be much more effective on offense. Now that LeBron James actually sets picks for Dwyane Wade, the Miami offense has picked up, which was showcased against the Lakers and Grizzlies.
The Spurs are also a very aggressive offensive team with so many weapons on the floor. San Antonio is sixth in the league in scoring at 103.8 points per game.
If the Spurs spread the floor with Duncan down low, Parker driving and have their three-point shooters ready on the perimeter, Miami will be in trouble.
On the other hand, Miami is right behind the Spurs in scoring at 101.6 points. The Heat are very lethal when they score a lot of points and have the ability to do so with the amount of offensively talented players they have on their team.
Whoever is more aggressive on offense will win this matchup.
This is stating the obvious, but both squad's Big Three will very important to the outcome of this game.
For Miami, Chris Bosh will need to keep up his recent string of success. Since publicly demanding that he wants to get the ball more, he has responded with an average of 21 points on 60 percent shooting in the last two games (both wins).
If Bosh, James and Wade all come up with stellar performances and outplay the Spurs trio of Parker, Duncan and Ginobili, they will have a good shot at getting their redemption.
However, if San Antonio plays their inside-outside game with Parker and Duncan, while Ginobili drives to the basket and opens the floor, the Spurs will probably be victorious. When the Spurs are hitting on all cylinders, they are a very tough team to defend. The Heat have shown trouble defending big men and point guards, which the Spurs have very elite players at those positions.
While the role players will be big in this game, each team's Big Three will prove who wins this grudge match.
The Heat have appeared to get back on track with two straight wins against stiff Western Conference competition. They have changed up some of their offensive sets, gotten better play from Chris Bosh and been more aggressive on defense.
The Spurs have won three straight since a double-digit loss to the Lakers, but it was all against non-playoff teams.
Miami has a lot to prove in this game and this a very big statement game for them as they will want to change that 0-9 record against top teams. They will be very fired up in front of motivated home crowd and will be seeking revenge.
The current momentum combined with the extra motivation that the Heat have in this game will give them a slight edge.
Final Prediction: Miami 101- San Antonio 99