#524 Houston Rocketsvs.#523 San Antonio Spurs
Written by Chris Kubala
San Antonio Spurs (7-4 SU, 6-5 ATS, 9-2 O/U) vs. Houston Rockets (6-4 SU, 6-4 ATS, 6-4 O/U)
NBA: Thursday, May 11, 2017, Toyota Center, Houston, Texas, 8 pm ET
Line: Houston -7; Over/Under: 214
It’s Game 6 of a Western Conference semifinals series between a pair of teams from the Lone Star State. The second-seeded San Antonio Spurs look to close out the third-seeded Houston Rockets on the road Thursday night. With the series tied at two games apiece, the Spurs gutted out a 110-107 overtime win at home in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series advantage. The 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 12-9 edge in head to head playoff wins.
San Antonio had to grind out a win in Game 5: after leading 86-85 after three quarters, both teams stalled offensively in the fourth. The Spurs trailed by five with 2:34 to play but closed regulation on a 7-2 run to force overtime. In the extra session, the Spurs did all their scoring in the final 1:28 to get the win. Manu Ginobili blocked James Harden’s attempt to tie the game at the buzzer to preserve the victory. San Antonio shot 40.8 percent from the floor, 11 of 33 from three point range and 15 of 23 at the line. Kawhi Leonard led six Spurs in double figures with 22 points plus 15 rebounds in the win.
The Spurs are in the middle of the pack offensively in the playoffs, ranking 7th in scoring offense with 105.9 points per game. San Antonio comes in 7th in rebounding with 43.4 boards a contest while the team is 13th in assists with 19.5 dimes per game. San Antonio is 4th in the league in scoring defense as they allow 102.2 points a game. Kawhi Leonard leads the team with 27.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.73 steals per contest. LaMarcus Aldridge contributes 15.3 points plus 7.6 rebounds a night while Patty Mills chips in 10.9 points per game. Pau Gasol has stepped in and averaged 6.8 points and 6.7 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 5th in the league by shooting 46.7 percent from the field. San Antonio is tied for 7th in three point field goals per game with 9.5 per contest. The Spurs are currently 6th in the postseason by knocking down a solid 37.4 percent of their long range attempts.
Houston had their chances in Game 5 but failed to capitalize on them, dooming them to a tough loss that put them on the brink of elimination. The Rockets led by five with less than three minutes to play in regulation but scored just two points the rest of the way. In overtime, Houston had a chance to force overtime, down three with 15 seconds to go but inexplicably failed to get a shot off until right before the buzzer when James Harden was blocked. Houston shot 44.2 percent from the floor and went 16 of 38 from beyond the arc while connecting on 15 of 21 free throw attempts. Harden led the Rockets with 33 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists but committed nine turnovers.
The Rockets are third among postseason teams in scoring offense with 111 points per game. Houston is 6th in the league in rebounding with 43.5 boards per contest and is 8th in assists with 20.1 per game. The Rockets are 11th in scoring defense as they give up 105.8 points per game. James Harden leads the team with 30.3 points plus 5.7 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game. Lou Williams contributes 13 points off the bench, Eric Gordon puts up 13.6 points a night and Patrick Beverley chips in 11.5 points plus 5.6 rebounds a game. Nene Hilario (10 points, 4.7 rebounds), Clint Capela (10.1 points, 8.4 rebounds), Ryan Anderson (10.3 points, 5.2 rebounds) 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 45.2 percent from the floor. Houston is 3rd in the league by sinking 12.8 triples a night while ranking just 10th by shooting 33.4 percent from beyond the arc.
The Rockets missed a prime chance to pick up Game 5 and take the series advantage. They had Leonard on the bench for large stretches of the latter stage of the third quarter, fourth quarter and overtime. The short rotation took a toll on Houston as Harden was clearly fatigued in the extra session. Harden is really struggling with his perimeter shot as he is hitting only 28.3 percent from three point range, compared to 57.4 percent from inside the arc. Houston has to avoid foul trouble and get some production from an eighth or ninth guy to take pressure off Harden and company.
The over is 8-0 in the Spurs last 8 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game, 7-0 in their last 7 games following an ATS loss, 7-0 in their last 7 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game and 8-1 in their last nine overall. Houston has seen the over go 10-2 in their last 12 Conference Semifinals games, 4-1 in their last five overall and 4-1 in their last five against Western Conference foes. With everything on the line, Houston pushes the tempo and this one goes over the total.
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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.