Houston Rockets vs. San Antonio Spurs: Preview, Analysis and Predictions
Time: Friday, December 7th at 8:30 p.m. EST
TV: FX Southwest
Records: Houston Rockets (9-8) at San Antonio Spurs (15-4)
Betting Lines: Unavailable as of Thursday, December 6th at 6:56 p.m.
Injuries: Daniel Green, SAS, Groin; Royce White, HOU, Personal
Key Storyline: Hot Teams Clash
The San Antonio Spurs have won seven of their past eight games. The Houston Rockets, meanwhile, have won five of their past six.
Will one team cool down? Or are we in store for a battle of Texas firepower?
We're about to find out.
Key Matchup: Jeremy Lin vs. Tony Parker
The last time Jeremy Lin and Tony Parker met in the regular season, the San Antonio Spurs won an offensive slug fest against the New York Knicks. The final score was 118-105 and both Lin and Parker finished with at least 20 points.
Lin hit 20 on the dot and Parker finished with 32. Could we be in for a sequel?
If we are, the San Antonio Spurs are going to win. For those wondering why, try these numbers on for size.
Since the beginning of the 2011-12 regular season, the Spurs are 28-5 during games in which Parker scores at least 20 points. They're 7-0 during such games in 2012-13.
You want MVP numbers? That's an MVP number.
Lin, meanwhile, has shown nothing but inconsistency. He's averaging just 10.5 points on 38.6 percent shooting from the floor, which reflects his struggle to find his stroke thus far.
With that being said, Lin is also averaging 6.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. If Lin can get going as a facilitator and force Parker into both turnovers and contested shot attempts, Houston could steal a victory.
Keep in mind that Parker is shooting 36.8 percent from the floor during losses. He's shooting 51.1 percent during victories.
X-Factor: Greg Smith, Houston Rockets
After all of those Tony Parker stats, how could it be anyone else be the X-factor? Well, for those in need of one last boost in the MVP talk, try this.
The San Antonio Spurs have won 49 of their past 56 games in which Tony Parker has been active. That's a record of 49-7, for those who have yet to understand just how dominant Parker makes his team.
Time for some Greg Smith talk.
The competitive nature of this game will be decided by how well Smith plays against the likes of Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair. Although he will not be alone, Smith will be the key to how well the Rockets match up against the Spurs' deep frontcourt.
So how can he do it?
Thus far in 2012-13, the Rockets are 3-0 in games in which Smith scores in double-figures. Fortunately for Houston, Smith put up 21 against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 4th and 13 against the Utah Jazz on December 1st.
In other words, he's found his groove.
If Smith continues to score at that pace, Houston has a chance at victory. If he does not, the Rockets become unpredictable and inconsistent all over again.
It all rests on the unsung hero of the Rockets young season.
If this game were being played in Houston, the Rockets would have a legitimate chance at achieving victory. After all, they've won their past six home games.
Who will win?
Unfortunately, they've also lost their past five road games. Considering San Antonio is 34-7 at home over the past two seasons, it's safe to say that the Spurs are at an advantage.
And we haven't even compared rosters.
As previously stated, Tony Parker's last go-round with Jeremy Lin led to the Frenchman scoring 32 points. Between he and the limitless frontcourt depth San Antonio puts forth, the Spurs are en route to a rather commanding victory.
Even if the scoreboard does show that it was close, San Antonio will be in full control from start to finish.
With that being said, we can't sell James Harden short. The Bearded One did average 18.5 points on 49.3 percent shooting against the Spurs in the 2012 Western Conference Finals.
Unfortunately, the Rockets aren't the Oklahoma City Thunder. Harden will be the primary focus of the San Antonio D.
Expect Parker, Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter to shine collectively in this one.
San Antonio Spurs 106, Houston Rockets 97
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