4. Milwaukee Bucks – 45.3 W%, 58-70 record
Much like their record against Washington, this number is also a bit misleading. Again, the Rockets have their early years in San Diego to thank for their subpar start.
The Milwaukee Bucks began their series with San Diego by winning 14 of the first 17 matchups before the Rockets found their way to Houston. Since then, the season has been virtually even at 56 wins for the Bucks and 55 wins for the Rockets.
Before the 1980-81 season, the Dallas Mavericks’ addition to the league moved the Rockets over to the Western Conference, cutting their meetings with Milwaukee each season from four to two.
Since then, the Rockets have a 43-35 record over Milwaukee but still have some work to do if they want to start closing the gap. The Bucks are currently on a three-game winning streak over Houston, with their most recent victory being a 117-111 game in the 2019 season-opener.
Last year’s MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo had a triple-double in the matchup while Russell Westbrook led Houston with 24 points and 16 rebounds.
3. San Antonio Spurs – 45.2 W%, 90-109 record
While the Houston Rockets have three playoff series victories over the San Antonio Spurs (1980, 1981, 1995), to just one loss (2017), the regular season has been a different story.
Since their first matchup in 1976, the Texas rivals played each other fairly evenly until the 1988-89 season, when the Rockets created some separation. With a head-to-head advantage of 34-32 going into that season, Houston went on to win all six matchups that season to create a 40-32 cushion.
The largest series lead Houston would enjoy would come after a 1993 victory that gave the Rockets a 52-40 edge before San Antonio started to turn things around.
Once Tim Duncan entered the fray for the 1998-99 season, the Spurs won 12 of 14 meetings with Houston, including 11 straight from January 1998 to February 2001. Given what Duncan ended up accomplishing throughout his career with San Antonio, though, that’s no surprise. Many other teams suffered the Duncan Effect.
The good news is the Rockets have had more success against the Spurs recently, winning seven of the last 10 showdowns.
Next: No. 2 & 1