Game Day Preview: Spurs vs. Rockets

SAN ANTONIO SPURS (3-1) vs. HOUSTON ROCKETS (0-4)
TEAM LEADERS

Points Rebounds Assists
SPURS Richard Jefferson 20.0 Tim Duncan 10.8 Tony Parker 7.0
ROCKETS Kevin Martin 23.3 Luis Scola 14.5 Aaron Brooks 6.3

The San Antonio Spurs will try to extend their winning streak to three games and look to match their best start since 2007-2008 season when they host the Houston Rockets at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

The Rockets (0-4) remain surprisingly winless after four games and are coming off a 107-99 loss to the New Orleans Hornets. The same team that handed the Spurs their first regular season defeat.

The Spurs (3-1) are slowly getting their rhythm and will try to build momentum from an exciting 112-110 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

The Rockets are a gritty team and are controlling the boards. They are averaging 45.3 rebounds after four games, compared to the Spurs who are only averaging 40.0 rebounds per ball game. However, the Rockets have to focus on defense. They have allowed an average of 114.5 points per game in their first four outings.

George Hill could be available for the game after missing the game in Phoenix because of a trapezius muscle injury in the second quarter due to a flagrant-foul 2 by Los Angeles Clippers’ Craig Smith. It will be interesting to see on how the Spurs will manage DeJuan Blair and Tiago Splitter’s minutes against Houston Rockets’ imposing frontline with Yao Ming and Luis Scola.

The division rivals have split their last eight meetings in San Antonio. Houston Rockets’ leading scorer Kevin Martin will play his first game in San Antonio in a Rockets uniform.

KEYS TO THE GAME

SPURS:


Offense
Tim Duncan will need more help in the middle against the taller Rockets. It also means that the Spurs’ outside shooters need to be sharp in this game to open their inside game. Richard Jefferson, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker’s dribble penetrations will also be key.
Defense – The Rockets have a solid inside and outside game. This will be a good test for the Spurs defense. They need to battle it out on the boards and try to limit the Rockets inside production. Also containing Martin and limiting Aaron Brooks’ play-making ability will help. Can you say perimeter defense wanted for this game?
ROCKETS:

Offense – The Rockets have a good inside and outside combo in Scola and Martin but they also have a lot of offensive weapons. Entering this game, five Rockets are averaging in double figures.

Defense – It will be key for Houston to take away the Spurs’ inside game, but they also have to be wary of the Spurs’ outside shooters and passing game. They Spurs are currently 3rd in assist in the NBA, averaging 25.8 dimes per ball game. Another note is, for as much as the offensive power the Rockets have at the guard position with Brooks and Martin, both are not known for defense which is something the Spurs should take advantage of.

INJURIES

Spurs — George Hill – trapezius muscle (day-to-day), Matt Bonner – sprained right ankle (out). 

Rockets — Brad Miller – ankle (day-to-day)

PREDICTION: The Rockets might be winless in four games but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are a weak team. They will try their hardest to get their first victory of the season. However, the Spurs will be equally determined to get another win on their home floor. This should be another close game and defense will be the key. The Spurs will extend their winning streak to three games and keep the Rockets winless after five games.

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