In game 4 of the second round, the Houston Rockets find themselves in their first must-win situation of the 2017 playoffs. A 3-1 deficit to the Spurs is finality and is to be avoid at all costs.
Before I get into it, let me point out that things turned out pretty well for the Houston Rockets this season. They finished third in the league in the win-loss column, surpassing all preseason predictions. They made it past the first round with ease and have a real chance to see the Western Conference Finals. Red Nation should be happy and proud of their team this year.
That all being said, a loss to the San Antonio Spurs tonight would spell the beginning of the end for Houston’s 2016-2017 campaign. Plenty of teams across all sports have made it a trend to come back from 3-1 deficits, but Gregg Popovich’s squads are different. They’re not perfect, but they’re too good and too disciplined to blow such an advantage.
After the game 1 blowout, San Antonio made adjustments. Before the series started, Sam Casey wrote that the Spurs’ best chance of beating the Rockets is by forcing James Harden to beat them by himself, and Pop had his team do just that in game 3. His defenders stayed at home when guarding shooters, daring the Beard to score on his own.
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Harden responded well, pouring in 43 points on 50% shooting. However, he only tallied five assists and the rest of the team combined for only 49 points.
If the Rockets are to win tonight, they’ll have to put on a more team-oriented performance. San Antonio’s defense isn’t unbeatable, but Mike D’Antoni will have to have a plan for his team.
Tonight’s is the most important game of the playoffs thus far for the Houston Rockets. A loss will bring certain doom, but a win puts them in easily within reach of the semifinals. Look for the guys to play with a chip on their shoulder–they know how pivotal tonight’s game is.
Tip-off is at 8:00 CT this evening and the game will be broadcast on TNT. This might as well be a win-or-go-home contest for the Houston Rockets–let’s hope they play like it.