Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs San Antonio Spurs

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After a crazy comeback victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Rockets head back to Houston, at 21-7, to take on the Spurs, for the third time this season. The Rockets are led in both scoring, assists and rebounds by James Harden, at 27.7 points, 11.8 assists and 8 rebounds a game. The Rockets now rank 4th in offensive rating, 14th in defensive rating (top half!), and 5th in net rating.

The Spurs have won 16 of their last 18 games on their way to the second best record in the west, at 22-5. The Spurs are led in scoring by Kawhi Leonard, at 24 points, in assists by Tony Parker, at 4.6 assists, and in rebounds by Pau Gasol, at 7.9 rebounds per game. So far this season the Spurs rank 6th in offensive rating, 3rd in defensive rating, and 6th in net rating.

Starting Lineups

After receiving a knee to his knee, Clint Capela will be sidelined for about six weeks, reportedly with a fractured fibula. The Rockets will likely adjust their starting lineup to be James Harden at point guard, Patrick Beverley at shooting guard, Trevor Ariza at small forward, Ryan Anderson at power forward, and NenĂª Hilario at center, with Eric Gordon getting starter’s minutes.

The Spurs are likely to have the same starting lineup as the last time these two teams met, with Tony Parker at point guard, Danny Green at shooting guard, Kawhi Leonard at small forward, LaMarcus Aldridge at power forward, and Pau Gasol at center.

Three Things to Watch

  • Clint sidelined – With the Rockets biggest pick and roll threat and rim protector in a suit, this team will have to find a way to come together and fill those holes. Watch to see how the Rockets react to this adversity and if NenĂª and Harrell can step up.

  • Ryno's home struggles – It appears Ryan Anderson has struggled to adjust to the rims in Toyota Center so far this season. The 6'10 sharpshooter is shooting an astounding 47.1% from behind the arc on the road, and an equally surprising 27.3% at home. Watch to see if Ryan Anderson can find his way out of this strange home funk.

  • Third time's the charm  – After splitting their two games early in the season, these teams meet up again, in what could be an important game for seeding. The Rockets are currently 1.5 games back from the Spurs and the number two seed in the west. Watch to see if the Rockets can step up, with an injured starter, and take their 11th straight win against a very good team.

Prediction and Tip-Off

The Rockets are the hottest team in the NBA right now, coming off of their 12th straight win, but are now facing a major history before facing a tough opponent. I predict the Rockets win streak will end Tuesday night, as Clint's athleticism as the roll man is the Rocket's biggest advantage over the Spurs, and their slow footed big men.

Tip-off will be at 7:00 P.M. Central Time in Houston on Tuesday, December 20th. The game will be televised on NBATV and ROOT Sports, with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790-AM.

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