Game Day: Houston Rockets vs San Antonio Spurs – Home Court Advantage

Dec 25, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) and Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) fight for position in the second half of a NBA basketball game on Christmas at Toyota Center. Rockets won 88 to 84. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 25, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) and Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) fight for position in the second half of a NBA basketball game on Christmas at Toyota Center. Rockets won 88 to 84. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports /

Game Day: Houston Rockets versus San Antonio Spurs

The last time these two teams met it was Christmas Day with many expecting the Spurs to steam roll the inconsistent Houston Rockets, but it was the home team who shocked the Spurs with arguably their most complete defensive effort of the year.

Since that Christmas Day upset win the Houston Rockets have lost 3 consecutive games each with fourth quarter collapses and full segments of the individual games when the team abandoned their defensive efforts completely.  Now the Rockets must once again do something no one expects them to do: be the first team to beat San Antonio on the AT&T Center where they are 19-0.

To say it will take a major effort from the Rockets to upset the Spurs who are possibly the most balanced team in the Association is an understatement. Factor in the Spurs will want revenge for playing poorly last time out and the odds are more than against them! With that, let’s compare the teams and tonight’s match-up:

The Details

Venue: AT & T Center, San Antonio, Texas

Game Time: 8:30 PM EST – 7:30 PM CT


Radio: 790 AM and WOAI 1200AM

Recent History:

  • Dec 25 SAS 84 – 88 HOU
  • Apr 10 SAS 104 – 103 HOU
  • Apr 9 HOU 98-110 SAS
  • Dec 29 HOU 106-110 SAS

Walking Wounded:


  • Though Tim Duncan (knee) is listed as a game time decision there have been reports he expects to play

INJURY UPDATE: Tim Duncan will play on Saturday vs Rockets.

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 31, 2015


Projected Starters:

Spurs: Tony Parker, Danny Green , Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan

Rockets: Patrick Beverley, James HardenTrevor Ariza, Dwight Howard, Clint Capela

Key Reserves:

Spurs: Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw, David West, Kyle Anderson

Rockets: Donatas Motiejunas, Marcus Thornton, Corey Brewer,  Jason TerryTy Lawson

Key Match-up:

The entire front court hosts an interesting match-up given the veteran savvy of Duncan, Diaw and West alongside the new Spurs star Aldridge. Countering the Spurs incredible front court prowess the Rockets have a two veterans in Howard and Ariza offset by athleticism and youth via their 3 budding stars Capela, Jones and Motiejunas.

If the Rockets are to take a run at the Spurs today contrary to most thinking it would require an all out James Harden scoring presentation it’s actually in the front court they’ll need to be exceptional.

Houston vs Spurs Stat Comparison
Houston vs Spurs Stat Comparison /

Keys to Winning:

  • Get off to a strong start: Don’t let the Spurs bury you early, therefore it’s important Houston keep San Antonio within range for the first quarter.
  • Take advantage of your few better ranked assets: Two areas the Rockets are obviously stronger than the Spurs is their ability to force turnovers (though the Spurs don’t cough the ball up much) for steals and offensive rebounding. The Rockets need to take advantage of these areas.
  • Win the paint: The Spurs post arguably the strongest (and wisest) front court in the Association, but if the Rockets are to compete they’ll need to take advantage of their youthful, versatile bigs including Howard, Capela, Motiejunas and Jones to offset the strength of San Antonio.
  • Win the rebound battle: As noted the Rockets hold an advantage on the offensive boards so they’ll need to utilize that to create second chance scoring opportunities and work to make their defensive rebounding as strong to create points in transition.
  • Start 2016 with a renewed commitment to defense: Since beating the Spurs the Rockets have lost 3 straight and done more to convince fans and pundits alike there is major trouble in the locker room than originally speculated. It’s time the Rockets collectively produce 48 minutes of energy and regardless of the final outcome make this the day they commit to “bringing it” each and every time out.

More from Space City Scoop

The Pick:

The odds makers have the Spurs favored by a whopping 11 points and it’s hard to argue that spread given their 19-0 unbeaten home record. The over – under is 200.5 and early action is heavily on the Spurs.

Sure the Rockets beat San Antonio on Christmas, but the Spurs have lost just 6 games this season and none are to the same team. Moreover while the Rockets have been a picture of inconsistency the Spurs are the complete opposite. Case in point, of the Spurs 6 losses one was on opening night to the Thunder by 6 points, one was a weird off night to the Pelicans by 14 points, three were by 3 points and the game versus Houston by 4 points. Suffice to say not only do the Spurs not lose much, when they do they are often in the game competing right to the final horn.

Prediction: Not sure I’m in on the 11 point spread, but I’ll definitely take the Spurs and hope my penchant for the Rockets over performing when I expect them not to continues.

For more exciting news and stories on the San Antonio Spurs visit our affiliate Fansided site: Air Alamo

Next: Spurs Team Preview - Master Class

Next: Sideline Chirps - Revealing the Chad

Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the early season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.