After four games in the Western Conference semifinals, and without 16-year veteran Tony Parker, the Spurs and Rockets are tied at two games each.
After a whopping 121-96 game 2 victory, the Spurs learned that Tony Parker, the Spur with the longest tenure, would miss the remainder of the season with a torn quad. He had surgery to repair his quad a few days later, which went well. However the Spurs will be without #9, who was playing so well as of late, for quite some time.
While uncertain what the team would look like without the starting guard that has played in 16 playoffs, they responded well in game 3 beating the Rockets 103-92. The Spurs shot 45.3% and held the Rockets to 36.4%. The player of the game had to be LaMarcus Aldridge, who arguably played his best playoff game this season. The forward tied Kawhi Leonard for most points with 26. Patty Mills was the next leading scorer with 15.
The same could not be said of game 4, however. Right out of the gate, the Spurs let the Rockets get an early lead and they were never able to catch up. Offensively, San Antonio performed well overall, shooting 49.4% from the field, thanks to a stellar game from second-year player Jonathon Simmons who had a team high 17 points. Simmons’ performance wasn’t enough as the Spurs only made 7-of-23 3-pointers but allowed Houston to knock down 19.
The problems of this series, aside from the absence of Tony Parker, lie in the performance of LaMarcus Aldridge and defense from beyond the arc. In games 2 and 3, the Spurs only allowed the Rockets to make 11 and 12 3-point shots.
In addition to poor defense, the Spurs desperately need consistent performances from Aldridge. Aldridge, who scored 26points and seven rebounds in the game 3 win, made only 16 points in 25 minutes of game 4 before coach Gregg Popovich waved the white flag. Not all blame falls on Aldridge in the game 4 125-104 loss, however, Kawhi Leonard only scored 16 in 30 minutes.
While the hustle was there from Simmons in game 4, Mills and Aldridge in game 3, and it was obvious from Parker throughout the playoffs before his season-ending injury, the Spurs need more from the supporting cast to perform well this series. While one player might perform great on one night, he might play equally bad the next. That can’t happen. This Spurs team’s lack of consistency seems to be catching up with them at the worst possible time and in order to win, they need to begin to jell and begin that process as soon as possible.
The Spurs will face the Rockets in game five on Tuesday at 7pm in San Antonio.