Nov 4, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) holds the ball during the second half against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. San Antonio won 100-86. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
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Houston Rockets finish their 5-game road trip with a match versus the San Antonio Spurs. Game Day breaks down the match.
It’s been an up and down road trip for the Houston Rockets and now they’ll face a big challenge facing division rival San Antonio Spurs. However this is more than just a road game for H-Town as the Spurs represent a division rival and top West opponent.
A win in San Antonio would go a long way to building the Houston Rockets confidence. Undoubtedly the Spurs offer a tough challenge given they are one of 3 teams ranking in the top ten offense, defense and net rankings to begin the week (the Hawks and Raptors are the other 2 teams). Although the Rockets entered the week with a top 5 offense, their 28th ranked defense will need to be far better than it has been.
Last game out the Rockets changed up their starting line-up inserting Corey Brewer for Eric Gordon. D’Antoni hoped the move would allow Gordon to feast on opposing teams reserves. While this may have worked in Washington, Gordon’s challenge tonight will find him squaring up against Manu Ginobili.
Oct 10, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray (5) prepares to shoot the ball as Detroit Pistons forward Jon Leuer (30) defends during the fourth quarter of the game at The Palace of Auburn Hills. The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Detroit Pistons 86-81. Mandatory Credit: Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports
Round 1: Dejounte Murray (29)
Round 2: N/A
Bryn Forbes : given a guaranteed contract beyond Summer League
Oct 27, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) during the game against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. The Spurs won the game 102-94. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 1, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) drives to the basket against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. San Antonio Spurs defeated the Orlando Magic 103-91. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 28, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley (2) is defended by San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) during the fourth quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports
Patrick Beverley – rotoworld reports Beverley is ahead of schedule following the knee scope and anticipates a mid November return. Targeting November 21.
San Antonio Spurs:
Tony Parker – knee, will not play
Danny Green who has missed several games with an injured quadricep is slated to play on Wednesday
Nov 4, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich (left) talks with guard Manu Ginobili (20) on the bench during the second half against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. San Antonio won 100-86. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Keys to winning:
Defense: Though the Rockets players all spouted their belief they could be a solid two-way team through 7 games they bring a 28th ranked defense to the court. Granted Houston has played 6 of their 7 games on the road. Still, it’s important for the starters specifically to play as a unit on the defensive end. The key may come down to how well Ryan Anderson can defend LaMarcus Aldridge. Though he’ll keep Aldridge busy on the offensive end Anderson needs to communicate with his teammates since Capela will have his own hands full guarding Pau Gasol.
Inspired Spurs Team: The Spurs offer a balanced attack with the 4th ranked offense and 9th ranked defense entering the week. That said the Spurs suffered 2 home losses last week at the hands of the Jazz and Clippers. The latter loss was significant given it was by 24 points. San Antonio enter the match on 3 days rest having last played Saturday and will be intent on gaining back an edge at home. Houston can’t afford to get out to a slow start as the Spurs will capitalize on that advantage.
Limit Kawhi: With all due respect to LeBron James the Rockets face off against the best 2-way player in the league in Kawhi Leonard. If there was any doubt on whose team the Spurs were with Tim Duncan’s retirement Leonard answered that question on night one of the season. Expect plenty of Leonard facing James Harden in this match. The key will be player movement as the Rockets will need to offer open targets for Harden to pass the ball to. Standing on the perimeter won’t suffice as Leonard will use his incredibly large hands to cut off those passes.
Reserves: San Antonio has once again brought in a bevy of unknown players to foster their bench. Argentinian guard Nicolas Larovittola and sharp shooter Davis Bertans are just two of the players who’ve helped the Spurs to the top ranked bench unit. The Spurs bench boasts a plus +18.3 differential compared to the Rockets minus -6.6.
Moving Eric Gordon to the bench will hopefully offset part of that huge disparity.