Houston Rockets vs. San Antonio Spurs
Date and Time: Tuesday, May 9, 2017, 8 p.m. ET
Location: ATT Center, San Antonio, TX
Rockets vs. Spurs TV Coverage: TNT
Frustrated by San Antonio’s transition defense the last two games, the Rockets got back on track on Sunday, shooting a blistering 52.6 percent and burying 19 three-pointers in their 125-104 win to even the series. It also helped that James Harden was feeling better after battling an illness. Harden scored 28 points on 10 of 18 shooting and has connected on 52.2 percent of his shots in the last two games. The Rockets will need Harden to be on his game Tuesday. The Beard hit just 9 of 30 shots in the first two games in San Antonio, though the Rockets split those games.
Houston got plenty of help for Harden on Sunday with six other players scoring in double figures. Eric Gordon added 22 points to help the teams cash the over for the third time in four games. Houston’s bench, which isn’t deep to begin with, could be hurt after Nene sustained an injury and played only two minutes. The tempo and ball movement created open looks, and unlike Games 2 and 3, the Rockets were able to bury their chances.
It looked as though the Spurs were happy to get a split on the road and get homecourt advantage back with their Game 3 win, because they certainly didn’t show up on Sunday. The aggressive defense that stymied the Rockets in Games 2 and 3 let up and the Rockets took advantage. San Antonio led the NBA in efficiency during the regular season and is built on being a strong defensive club. It wasn’t there on Sunday.
If there’s one thing the Spurs learned in the first four games it’s that they have to set the tone. Playing deliberately, making a high percentage of shots and playing transition defense are what make them successful. They failed on Sunday and Kawhi Leonard was a non-factor. The Rockets effectively eliminated San Antonio’s best player and left the Spurs playing a one-on-one game. That’s not their style and Gregg Popovich will let them know that.
The Spurs lost Tony Parker for the remainder of the postseason and they were able to overcome the loss with a win in Game 3. Now the Spurs’ backcourt may have a bigger problem. Nene went down with a groin injury early in Sunday’s game and Clint Capela was dealing with foul problems. That forced Mike D’Antoni to use a lineup that shredded San Antonio. With a frontcourt of Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza, the Rockets had five distance shooters on the court at the same time.
Houston was able to deliver and the lineup that also consists of Harden, Patrick Beverley and Eric Gordon knocked down 17 of the 19 three-pointers. Without a presence in the paint, the Spurs had a tough time defending Houston on the perimeter. Patty Mills and Dejounte Murray, splitting time in Parker’s absence, spent too much time and energy running around on defense.
Rockets vs. Spurs Free Picks
Two contrasting styles have played even through two games and the Rockets’ up tempo style has cracked one of the better defensive units. Houston played one of its best games on Sunday to even the series and has the confidence knowing they pummeled the Spurs in San Antonio in Game 1. The Spurs, meanwhile, held Houston under 100 points in consecutive games for the first time this season in Games 2 and 3. Each game has been decided by double-digits when a total of 12 points separated the teams during four regular season games.
It will be tough for the Rockets to maintain their style of play on the road and the Spurs will make the proper adjustments to slow them down. Check back for odds at BookMaker.eu and expect this game to be much closer with the series now a best-of-three. Go with the home team straight up, but the Rockets will hang around until the end, covering the spread that is likely to be in the 5-6 point range.
Rockets vs. Spurs ATS Pick: Grab the points with Houston at BookMaker.eu
Rockets vs. Spurs Score Prediction: Spurs 109 – Rockets 107