The matchup for tonight when the San Antonio Spurs visit the Houston Rockets will be between Kawhi Leonard and Chandler Parsons.
In three games against the San Antonio Spurs, Parsons has averaged 17ppg this season. He's shooting 35% from the 3-point line and 48% overall from the field. Parsons is a 6'9" sharpshooting small forward who can easily get clean shots over shorter forwards. Kawhi Leonard may give him problems when he's defending Parsons, but we haven't seen too much of that with Leonard dealing with nagging injuries early on in the season. He's only played in one game against Houston this season. Leonard will be dealt with the responsibility of defending one of Houston's best shooters and looking to shut down their biggest weapon in the 3-point shot.
What Leonard must do on offense:
Kawhi Leonard will likely get some easy looks if he keeps in motion on the offense end. Houston is 28th (102.8ppg) in points allowed this season in the league and they haven't been too shy about letting that stat out against the Spurs with S.A. scoring over 114ppg in all three games against this team. With Leonard's versatility on offense, he'll be able to make the Rockets defense uncomfortable while they focus on Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, or Manu Ginobili on the floor. Kawhi is shooting 66% (75-133) from the restricted area and he'll be looking to cut to the basket on the Rockets while their best defensive big man, Omer Asik, focuses on Duncan. Leonard is also shooting 46% (42-92) from the corner three and this is one of the primary reasons why Tony Parker has been getting cleaner looks off the pick and roll this season.
What Leonard must do on defense:
The Spurs may want to get away with James Harden trying to score the majority of the points himself on drives and have Leonard focus on Parsons with his height and length likely being a problem for the Houston small forward. Parsons is shooting 63% (192-312) from the restricted area, mainly with his height and foot speed causing problems for other defenders. The Spurs play two legitimate big men in the paint, so it shouldn't come that easy to Parsons as his average this game. He's also shooting 53% (55-104) from the corner 3-point line, but is more comfortable shooting from the wing. He's only shooting 34% (77-229) from there, but gets the easiest looks in transition where the Rockets prefer to attack with Harden or Lin mastering the fast break. Leonard will have to stay with him and pay attention to where he motions along the floor. This matchup will depend on how well Leonard can defend Chandler Parsons tonight and if he can take away the 3-point shot from him, which will make the Rockets struggle throughout the game without.