San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets Gameday Q&A

The San Antonio Spurs (57-18) will travel up I-10 to take on the Houston Rockets (39-36) tonight in a Texas-sized tussle. The Spurs have won all three of the previous meetings with the Rockets and will look to complete the season series sweep tonight. Overall, the Spurs have won four games straight against the Rockets. To make matters worse for Houston, they have not won a season series against San Antonio since the 1996-1997 season.

In their last meeting, the Spurs won 115-107 in Houston where Tony Parker led the way with 21 points and six assists.

As for the game tonight, it’s a matchup of offensive teams as the Spurs average 103.4 points per game while the Rockets average 106 per game but it will come down to defense as the Spurs allow 97.6 points per game while the Rockets allow 104 per game.

To talk about tonight’s contest, I turn to fellow NBA Bloguin blogger Mike Kerns of Rockets Retro. A brand new site here at Bloguin and a solid site for all things Rockets. Also, do not forget to read the Q&A I did for Mike at Rockets Retro and follow him on Twitter.

In this Q&A, Mike talks about the Rockets’ playoff chances, the Aaron Brooks trade, why the Spurs have the Rockets’ number and much more.

Jeff: The Rockets are knocking on the door to make the playoffs at the eighth seed in the West. With key injuries to Memphis and New Orleans, can Houston sneak in at number eight?

Mike: Even before the loss to the Sixers Wednesday night, it looked grim. Now it looks to be non-existent. It’s just a case of too little, too late in regards to the playoffs. The team has played well above their heads since the break, for sure. But, in the end, it’s another year of a late lottery pick for the Rockets.

What happened between the Rockets and Aaron Brooks? Such a talented player but went went wrong? How has Goran Dragic been since joining Houston?

Aaron got a raw deal here in my opinion, While I was glad to see him move on, it wasn’t a fair shake. As you might remember, he hurt his ankle pretty bad in the first game against the Spurs this season and missed significant time. Then, in his absence, Kyle Lowry did what every backup player does; try to prove that he deserves to be the starter. And he proved that so well that he kept the job when Aaron came back. So, I say he didn’t get a fair deal because it’s pretty messed up to lose your job because of injury. But you still have to be a professional about it. And that wasn’t exactly Aaron’s forte. He acted like a younger brother trying desperately to get his fathers approval whenever he’d get in the game and Rick just wasn’t a fan of it. It was a bittersweet goodbye, but getting a 1st rounder and Goran Dragic for him (I’m sure you guys remember him) and solidifying Lowry as the starter was a good move in most Rockets fans opinions.

Houston is playing very well recently. What has been the difference for Houston?

The team has played lights out since the trade deadline and the only reason I can see for that is now guys know their roles better. Kyle Lowry and Aaron Brooks aren’t competing for the starting point guard job and Coach Adelman no longer has the option of playing Shane Battier and Chuck Hayes, two guys not know for the offensive output, large quantities of minutes together.

This season, the Spurs have won all three meetings with the Rockets. Is it more what the Spurs are doing or is it what the Rockets aren’t doing versus San Antonio?

All year, the Rockets have been in games very late against teams much better than them. And the difference between now and then is that they’ve learned how to close much better. As far as against the Spurs, a lot of fans whine about the favoritism in the officiating going San Antonio’s way, but in my opinion the Spurs are inside their head. They are who Houston strives to be.

Tonight will be a matchup of offensive powers. The Spurs average around 103.4 points per game while the Rockets average 106. With that being said, what will be the keys for Houston to get a win over San Antonio and what matchup would you tell fans to watch for in this game?

I have the same keys for the Rockets in every game; get a freaking stop defensively. Chuck Hayes is as stout of a defender as you’ll find in the NBA, sure. But he can’t guard three positions by himself and that is what he is asked to do because of Luis Scola and Kevin Martin being turnstiles on that end of the ball. They’re both big parts of the Rockets firepower, but if they score 80 points combines, they give up 81 on the other end.

The matchup I’d watch is the battle of the benches. Houston’s youth and athleticism has kept them/got them back in a lot of games with their efficiency. Courtney Lee might be one of the best non-starters in the game right now on both ends of the floor and rookie Patrick Patterson has been creating some mismatches with his speed for his size. If they can keep Houston in the game in the late 3rd/early 4th and give the starters sufficient rest, we should be in for another down to the wire contest.