After a grueling first round against a physical Memphis Grizzlies team, the San Antonio Spurs head to round two to face James Harden and the Houston Rockets in the 2017 NBA Playoffs.
As many predicted, it took the Spurs an excruciating six games to get past Mike Conley and the Grizzlies. In a huge series for Spurs star Kawhi Leonard, the MVP hopeful was perfect from the line for the first four games of the series and he averaged 54.8% shooting from the field.
In addition to Leonard’s impact, Tony Parker came out and shocked everyone with his performance throughout the series. The 15-year veteran shot a remarkable 53.3% from the field and helped the Spurs out during some scoring droughts throughout the series.
“Tony wasn’t just effective today,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich told ESPN following the Spurs’ 103-96 game six series closer. “He’s done a masterful job of getting in shape down the stretch of the season and playing his best basketball during this playoff — finding people, scoring himself, working hard defensively. He had a magnificent playoff.”
As the Spurs look toward round two, effective play from more players other than Leonard will be a necessity.
In their first round matchup against Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Rockets shot 45.5% from the field. Throughout this series, Harden shot 41.1% while leading his team past the Thunder.
“It’s going to be a tough, a truly tough series,” said Harden of his team’s upcoming series with the Spurs. “San Antonio isn’t going to beat themselves. So, you’ve got to be mentally focused and prepared to go out and, you know, execute every possession.”
Harden, arguably one of the best players in the league, remains a huge concern for San Antonio going into this second-round matchup.
“It’ll take my all to try to, you know, to try to make it difficult for him out there,” said Leonard about matching up against Harden in round two. “He’s a great scorer.”
Though the Spurs ended the regular season series with the Rockets, 3-1, there are a few concerns. As Project Spurs’ own Paul Garcia mentioned in his “Quantitative & Qualitative Look at Spurs vs Rockets Series,” the Spurs only outscored the Rockets by eight points over all in their three season wins.
The Spurs will continue their playoff run Monday night in the round two opener at 8:30 pm in San Antonio.