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It’s round two of the NBA playoffs! After two hard fought series, the Spurs and Rockets find themselves in a classic Western Conference match up. Mike D’Antoni, the offensive wiz versus, “the executive of defense” (nice nickname right), Gregg Popovich in what should be a very entertaining series.
On offense, the Rockets can absolutely fill it up. James Harden and company find little to no resistance when attempting to score. They will need to continue their great ball movement, keep the ball in motion to confuse the Spurs great defenders, keep the games at an accelerated pace and keep the turnovers to a minimum. Houston has attempted more free throws than any other playoff team. The Rockets just need to keep up the good work and continue getting points from the charity stripe.
Defensively the Rockets have their work cut out for them. They need to make everybody but Kawhi Leonard beat them. Double team him or foul him whatever, make his life miserable. It’s imperative they take away those cheap back door shots the Spurs get around the rim, they’re a very good passing team. Even though they have good shooters, force them into more outside shots. That’s not really in their philosophy to shoot 30 three-point shots.
The X-Factor for Houston is Lou Williams. The little spark plug has provided an offensive punch off the bench. He will need to continue to score in bunches and keep the scoring up while the starters are resting.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs on offense will need to get a lil more aggressive. Kawhi Leonard has been awesome averaging 31.2 points in the playoffs. The Spurs will need a bigger effort from the rest of it’s starters and role players. San Antonio needs to force the issue against a soft Houston defense. Getting their big men involved in and around the rim is necessary. They shouldn’t settle for threes when they get down, they should trust their defense and slowly chip away from a lead.
Defensively San Antonio continues to be a no-nonsense team giving up only 96.3 points per game this postseason. They will need to slow the Rockets fast pace down by not over committing to any one player and keep opponents in front of them. The Spurs must battle on the boards and don’t give the Rockets clean outlets to fast breaks.
Prediction: Rockets 4-3 in seven games.