Houston Rockets vs Spurs: 2017-18 Game 27: Five things to watch

HOUSTON, TX - MAY 05: Kawhi Leonard
HOUSTON, TX - MAY 05: Kawhi Leonard /

The Houston Rockets keep rolling with their 11-game win streak on the line, taking on the San Antonio Spurs tonight in one of the best match ups that you’ll want to watch this season.

This has certainly been a date that I’ve circled in my Houston Rockets pocket schedule as nothing quite beats this interstate rivalry that’s become one of grittiness, sweat, strain and will test the wits of both teams.  I don’t think you’ll get a better game than this one for the time being so it’s imperative you keep your eyes glued and get your popcorn ready!

Kawhi Leonard has returned back to the lineup after recovering from a quad injury.  Their offense took a nosedive as a result but they’re still winning games because of their intense rebounding and top-notch defense.  What would you expect out of a Gregg Popovich team?

LaMarcus Aldridge has been holding down the fort and with all of the rumors indicating that he was unhappy as a Spur, they’ve been put the rest as he became the focal point of the offense.  That’s going to change a bit with Leonard in the equation but he will be a formidable force regardless and I’m trying to figure out how Ryan Anderson is going to defend him.  We’ll have to see about that.

In the words of the Illustrious NFL linebacker Bart Scott when tying my feelings to this match up, I “CAN’T WAIT!”

1.) So who’s leading the charge for the Spurs?

LaMarcus Aldridge leads in points (22.7 PPG) and rebounds (8.3 RPG).  Patty Mills serves up the dimes (3.5 APG), Kyle Anderson is in charge of the steals (1.2 SPG) and Pau Gasol is the team’s shot-blocker (1.2 BPG).

2.) Let’s talk about what the Spurs do well.

They’re still terrific defenders.  The Spurs are 3rd in defensive efficiency, allowing just 101.1 points per 100 possessions.

They’re severely aggressive on the boards.  The Spurs are ranked 4th — tied with the Denver Nuggets — in rebound rate, taking down 52.1 percent of missed shots.  They’re 5th in defensive rebound rate (79.5) and 6th in offensive rebound rate (24.8).

They’re still quite solid at moving the ball around.  The Spurs are 7th in assist ratio, with 17.6 percent of their possessions ending with an assist.

They’re quite capable of taking care of the basketball.  The Spurs are 10th in turnover ratio, with 13.3 percent of their possessions ending with a turnover.

3.) Injuries:

Luc Mbah a Moute dislocated his shoulder on a hard spill after a breakaway dunk in Wednesday’s contest against the Hornets, exiting the game early and not returning.  He has had an MRI done indicating that there’s no significant damage and could be back within the next two to three weeks.  The team will re-evaluate his recovery progress next week.

Kawhi Leonard returned back to the court for the first time of the season this past Wednesday

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against the Dallas Mavericks after suffering a quad injury late last season.  He scored 13 points and pulled down six boards in 16 minutes of action.  He is slated as PROBABLE for tonight which make this match up all the better.

Danny Green has been dealing with some left groin tightness but it won’t deter him from being out tonight.  He is been deemed as PROBABLE for tonight.

Source(s): Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle and Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com

4.) Matchups to Watch:

  1. Trevor Ariza vs. Kawhi Leonard
  2. Clint Capela vs. Pau Gasol
  3. Chris Paul vs. Patty Mills/Tony Parker
  4. Danny Green vs. James Harden

Next: THREE Reasons why there's hate for James Harden

5.) Prediction:

101-96 in a Houston Rockets’ win!

The Rockets are at home to take on the Spurs at Toyota Center.

Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. CST.

The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet Southwest/ESPN and broadcast on SportsTalk 790 AM, Sirius 207, XM/SiriusXM 86 (Internet 890) and La Ranchera 101.7 FM (KNTE) & 850 AM (KEYH) in Spanish.

Go Rockets.