Game Day: Houston Rockets
Record: 53-24, Western: 2nd Record: 52-26, Western: 6th,
Southwest: 1st, last ten 8-2 Southwest: 3rd, last ten 9-1
Houston Rockets vs. San Antonio Spurs
Wed Apr 8, 8:30 PM EST – CSNH, FSSW, RTSW
AT&T Center – San Antonio, TX
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- Make no mistake about it: the next 2 games will undoubtedly determine where the Rockets and Spurs finish this season. The Rockets have played San Antonio twice and split the series so this home and home series will either allow Houston to remain in second or conversely could result in them plummeting all the way to sixth.
- While it’s not imperative for Houston to win both of these games the onus on getting a split is key. With just 5 total games remaining if the Rockets could grab one of the two games it will definitely position them well to retain second place and the Southwest Division title.
- The Rockets next 3 games following the Spurs series features another SW division squad: New Orleans and then the Rockets will face a team who should be eliminated by the time they meet (next Monday, April 13) Charlotte and finish at home versus Utah. Not that the Rockets can take any of these teams for granted, but certainly getting a split with San Antonio would go a long way to cementing the division which they currently lead Memphis by a full game and San Antonio by one and a half games.
- Interestingly the Spurs final 5 games (besides Houston) feature the three teams chasing the eighth seed. They beat Oklahoma City Monday and are on a very hot streak having won 8 in a row all by double digits! Perhaps the Rockets luck out in that the Spurs are playing on a back to back, however they sent the Thunder to bed early with a dominant 113-88 win. The key occurrence in last night’s game was Tony Parker left with soreness in his Achilles so it’s unlikely he’ll suit up tonight (or even Friday) which benefits Houston. During the 8-game winning streak San Antonio have been beating their opponent by an average score of 20.87 points!
- The baton has been passed to Kawhi Leonard who is finally healthy and resembling the MVP of last year’s Championship Spurs team. Don’t expect coach Gregg Popovich to be resting any of his starters (other than Parker due to the minor injury) as these two games are just as critical for the Spurs seeding. If however the Rockets can take the first game it may change how the Spurs approach the game in Houston Friday.
- The primary goal of this home and home series is to approach it one game at a time and endeavor to capture a split. The secondary goal is to avoid playing the Spurs in the first round by winning the Southwest Division and subsequently the second seed. Of note: if the Rockets can lock up the division they’ll create a better path to the Western Conference Finals as it should translate into avoiding both Golden State or San Antonio until that round (assuming they could beat Dallas and whoever wins the series between likely opponents Portland and the Clippers).
- Another key note: The Spurs haven’t suffered back to back losses since January 23rd and 25th! Since then the Spurs record is 18-3.
- The key games for Memphis, the team directly behind them in the division and current third seed will be the Clippers and Golden State games. Although seeding may be a moot point by the time those games occur we’ve grown accustom to these things not be decided until the last day and last game, so don’t expect any of these squads to throw in the towel. None of these teams want to be bashed by a Western opponent they could face in the post season as it only serves to give unnecessary confidence to the winning squad. Therefore Rockets’ fans should be pulling for the Clippers and Golden State to take the games this coming Saturday and next Monday respectively. You might say why pull for the Clippers who are only a game back of Houston, however since the Clippers can’t win their division they cannot usurp the Southwest Division winner, so a win by the Clippers would be preferential to a Memphis win as they can still win the Southwest.
Next: The Numbers Don't Lie