Editor’s note: Jeff is a sports and whiskey enthusiast with the humor of an adolescent boy. Follow him on Twitter @springthenoise for satirical sports stories.
By JEFF SPRINGMEIER
Rockets vs. Spurs: Series Forecast
Thursday night, amongst the shadows of the NFL draft, the Spurs closed out the Grizzlies with a 103-96 series win; thus, setting up the I-10 showdown. Down we go the rabbit hole of this semi-finals matchup.
Regular Season Matchup (Rockets 1-3):
Nov. 9 – Rockets 101 vs. Spurs 99
Nov. 12 – Spurs 106 vs. Rockets 100
Dec. 20 – Spurs 102 vs. Rockets 100
Mar. 6 – Rockets 110 vs. Spurs 112
Spurs fans will argue they had Houston’s number this year and Rockets fans will argue each game was decided by less than six points. But when it comes to the NBA playoffs, past performance does not always predict future results. The only thing intriguing about the regular season matchup is the most recent game on Mar. 6. Rockets lead for an overwhelming majority of the game, but at the end of the fourth quarter, Kawhi Leanord opened up a can of whoop ass on the sluggish Rockets defense. In this year’s playoffs, we haven’t seen the Rockets play a full 48 minutes. If they are going to make this series competitive, they need to show up for the whole game.
On top of that, the Rocket’s failed to hit their average ppg (115.3) in any of these four games. Many will accredit the lack of Houston’s typical offensive production to the Spurs staunch defense. While this may be the case, it is imperative for Houston’s support staff to be on target from downtown. I’m talking to you Ryan Anderson, get your sh*t straight. Either your production in game 1 improves, or D’Antoni should have name-plate made for you on the bench.
Game 1: Rockets @ Spurs – Mon., May 1st – 8:30 PM – TNT
Game 2: Rockets @ Spurs – Wed., May 3rd – 8:30 PM – TNT
Game 3: Spurs @ Rockets – Fri., May 5th – 8:30 PM – ESPN
Game 4: Spurs @ Rockets – Sun., May 7th – 7:00 PM – TNT
Game 5: Rockets @ Spurs – Tues., May 9th – TBD
Game 6: Spurs @ Rockets – Thurs, May 11th – TBD
Game 7: Rockets @ Spurs – Sun., May 14th – TBD
Well, we all thought the Rockets would have an early advantage due to more rest, but it seems the NBA is giving the Spurs enough time to ice their arthritic joints, drink their Metamucil, and do general old people things.
Neither team gets an advantage with this schedule, other than the fact that the Spurs are the higher seed. If the Rockets can snag game 1 or 2 on the road, expect this series to go to a full seven.
Currently, I haven’t seen the opening lines for Game 1 or the Series, but I can give you some advice. If you are an avid Blitzer, you heard Fred highlight a key point about series betting… just wait. Let’s wait until game 1 plays out to get in on the action. I’m assuming Spurs will open around between -170 to -200, so if Houston takes game 1, you might find value betting against your Rockets when that number edges closer to even.
Personally, I’m not betting the spread, since the Rockets shooting and consistency is so unpredictable. But based on game 1, I may play a few O/Us. Look for the opening O/U to be around 220, and if the Rocket’s shooting and rebounding fail to impress, bet the under on game 2.
Final thoughts and Rockets Keys to Victory:
A Leonard can’t change its spots. Kawhi is most likely going to have a monster series on both ends of the court. Therefore, the key for a Rockets victory is shutting down his support staff. We saw what Memphis did to the denture bunch in their victories. Parker, Ginobli, and Gasol need to be rendered non-factors by the Rockets defense.
When it comes down to it, whichever team plays their style of basketball better is going to win. The Spurs want to slow the game down, involve the big men, and play solid D. While the Rockets want to push the ball, drive and dish, and hit the three. With Houston’s style of offense, Harden’s support staff and the bench need to come up big in the scoring column and create meaningful turnovers on the defensive end.
The more I consider the numbers, the more I think the Rockets have a chance, but they need consistency on both ends of the floor to move on to the Conference Finals.