Sophomore gunners and stalwart seniors, respectively, the two teams also play with very different styles and disciplines. While the Spurs smother teams on both ends of the floor with their overwhelming network of rehearsed team motions, the Rockets eschew such order for chaos and high-volume shooting near the rim and from beyond the arc.
The way the two play each other on Jesus’ birthday bonanza just may enlighten us on how one of the more exciting bouts of this year’s playoffs goes.
When: Wednesday, Dec. 25 (Christmas Day) at 8 P.M. ET
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Spurs Injury Report
None to report
Rockets Injury Report
G James Harden, Probable, Sprained Ankle
C Omer Asik, Out, Thigh Contusion
Spurs Player to Watch: Kawhi Leonard
You've probably heard of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker. Those three have been heading up the Spurs for around a decade now, winning multiple championships and not once missing the NBA playoffs together.
Now they’re passing the torch to Leonard, who was so fabulous in last year’s NBA Finals that many suggested he be the series’ MVP in the event of the Spurs winning.
He's grown from a spot shooter in the corner (where he's deadly from beyond the arc) into perhaps the most important shot creator on his team. Watching this fearless youngster take it to the rim is a true pleasure.
Rockets Player to Watch: James Harden
Few players are as fun to watch as James Harden.
His much-buzzed beard draws eyeballs to him at first, but everyone sticks around for good once they see his nasty footwork and shooting from deep.
The Rockets' playing style dictates that the fast break is of utmost importance, and no player capitalizes on this ethos more than Harden. Once his powerful, charging frame gets down the court, he can two-step through or around seemingly any amount of defenders still in his way.
Key Matchup: Tim Duncan vs. Dwight Howard
The Rockets' most important player this year—the one who has many calling them true playoff contenders—is Dwight Howard.
Arguably the best center in the game, Howard will take the team's defense and half-court offense to levels unimaginable in last year's campaign.
But no man is better suited to stand in his way than Tim Duncan—still one of the best big men in the league after over 15 years of NBA service. He is, seemingly, impervious to time.
More importantly, he's got the wits and wherewithal to stymie Howard in the post on both ends. Unless Howard can prove otherwise, the Rockets may not have enough to overcome San Antonio.
This game could shake out any number of ways, but the circumstances of the regular season favor the Rockets. They won the last matchup between the two, and their playing style typically overwhelms teams not similarly equipped.
Without the room for adjustments open to them in a seven game series, the Spurs should be counted among those teams. The Rockets' stubborn obsession with their chaotic full-court offense can certainly be turned against them, but it takes some calculating that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is likely to get to at a later juncture in the season.
Rockets 110 - Spurs 103