#707 Houston Rocketsvs.#708 San Antonio Spurs
Tuesday, May 5 2017, at 8:00pm EDT
Written by Chris Kubala
Houston Rockets (6-3 SU, 5-4 ATS, 5-4 O/U) vs. San Antonio Spurs (6-4 SU, 6-4 ATS, 8-2 O/U)
NBA: Tuesday, May 9, 2017, AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas, 8 pm ET
Line: San Antonio -5; Over/Under: 214.5
It’s a pivotal Game 5 of a Western Conference quarterfinal series down in the Lone Star State. The Houston Rockets try to regain home court advantage as they face the San Antonio Spurs Tuesday night. The teams split two games in Houston with the Rockets cruising to a 125-104 win in Game 4 Sunday to square the series once again. Spurs have a 106-83 edge in the all-time regular season series and took three of four this season. Houston has won all three previous playoff series between the teams and holds an 12-8 edge in head to head playoff wins.
Houston put together an impressive performance in Game 4 at home to roll the Spurs and even the series once again. The Rockets led by 12 after the opening quarter and pulled away after San Antonio cut the deficit to four at the half. Houston outscored San Antonio 68-51 in the second half to cruise to the win. The Rockets shot 52.6 percent from the floor and drilled 19 of 43 three point attempts in the win. James Harden led Houston with 28 points and 12 assists in the win but the win came with a price: Nene Hilario suffered a groin injury and word circulating Monday is that he is lost for the remainder of the postseason.
The Rockets are third among postseason teams in scoring offense with 111.4 points per game. Houston is 6th in the league in rebounding with 43.1 boards per contest and is 9th in assists with 20 per game. The Rockets are 11th in scoring defense as they give up 105.3 points per game. James Harden leads the team with 30 points plus 5.2 rebounds and 8.4 assists per game. Lou Williams contributes 13.8 points off the bench, Eric Gordon puts up 13.9 points a night and Patrick Beverley chips in 10.6 points plus 5.8 rebounds a game. Nene Hilario (10 points, 4.7 rebounds), Clint Capela (10.2 points, 8.1 rebounds), Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza are the other key pieces in Mike D’Antoni’s playoff rotation. The Rockets are 9th in the postseason as they shoot 45.3 percent from the floor. Houston is 3rd in the league by sinking 12.4 triples a night while ranking just 10th by shooting 33.4 percent from beyond the arc.
For the second time in this series, San Antonio was blown out and now are locked in a best of three with a good Houston team. The Spurs cut a 12 point deficit after the opening quarter to four at the half before seeming to run out of steam. San Antonio saw the deficit balloon to 15 after three quarters and that was all she wrote. The Spurs shot 49.4 percent from the floor but went 7 of 23 from three point range in addition to a 9 of 18 performance at the free throw line. Jonathon Simmons led San Antonio with 17 points off the bench in a losing effort.
The Spurs are in the middle of the pack offensively in the playoffs, ranking tied for 7th in scoring offense with 105.5 points per game. San Antonio comes in tied for 7th in rebounding with 42.5 boards a contest while the team is 13th in assists with 19 dimes per game. San Antonio is 5th in the league in scoring defense as they allow 101.7 points a game. Kawhi Leonard leads the team with 28.4 points, seven rebounds and 1.7 steals per contest. LaMarcus Aldridge contributes 15 points plus seven rebounds a night while Patty Mills chips in 10 points per game. Pau Gasol has stepped in and averaged 7.1 points and 6.9 rebounds in his first postseason with the team. Manu Ginobili, David Lee, Dewayne Dedmon, Jonathon Simmons, Tony Parker (15.9 points) and Danny Green all are looked at to contribute for coach Gregg Popovich’s team. With Parker out for the rest of the postseason, Mills will slide into the starting role and rookie Dejounte Murray would be his backup. The Spurs are 3rd in the league by shooting 47.5 percent from the field. San Antonio is tied for 8th in three point field goals per game with 9.3 per contest. The Spurs are currently 5th in the postseason by knocking down a solid 38 percent of their long range attempts.
This series has been a back and forth swapping of wins with Houston taking Games 1 and 4 in blowout fashion while the Spurs claimed Games 2 and 3. None of the games have been decided by less than 11 points with three of the four recording better than a 20 point margin of victory. The Spurs lost Parker but have managed to hang in over the last couple games. Now the Rockets have to deal with some adversity as Hilario is likely done for the postseason. That throws Houston’s rotation out of whack and puts them on the brink of elimination. San Antonio picks up the win at home to go up 3-2.
San Antonio saw their adjustments that worked in Games 2 and 3 get abandoned in Game 4, allowing the Rockets to shoot at will from the perimeter. As a result, this is just the second series in the Gregg Popovich era where the Spurs have lost multiple games by at least 20 points in the same playoff series. If you’re a history buff, that didn’t go well for San Antonio: they were rolled by the Lakers in the 2001 Western Conference Finals as Los Angeles went on to win the title. How each team responds in this one with key pieces of their respective rotations missing will go a long way to determining how this plays out.
The over is 9-2 in the Rockets last 11 Conference Semifinals games, 4-1 in their last 5 games following a straight up win, 5-2 in their last 7 road games and 5-2-1 in their last eight against Southeast Division foes. San Antonio has seen the over go 7-0 in their last 7 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game, 6-0 in their last 6 games following a ATS loss and 6-0 in their last six after allowing at least 100 points. The teams have seen the over go 6-1-1 in their last eight meetings in San Antonio: look for that trend to continue here with the series lead at stake.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.