The San Antonio Spurs came out victorious Friday night in Game 3, defeating the Houston Rockets 103-92. Despite the absence of point guard Tony Parker the team is now clicking on all cylinders.
After Game 1 against the Houston Rockets, many were worried about the San Antonio Spurs. When it was announced Tony Parker would miss the rest of the postseason, some continued to worry. Those worries should be all but out the door after the Spurs regained home-court advantage Friday night in Houston.
Head coach Gregg Popovich made the necessary adjustments after the Game 1 loss and kept things status quo after his point guard went down in Game 2. Overall Friday night, the Spurs looked really sharp, thanks to a few “old” faces. Going into Game 4 we could see something even better depending on a few key players.
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Who Stepped Up
LaMarcus Aldridge was really being counted on after Parker went down, and he delivered in Game 3. We noted after last game how he was looking for his shot far more than the first game of this series, but he looked even stronger and was more efficient on Friday. Again he got the first look of the game, an open midranger jumper, that he rose up for and knocked down with confidence.
Aldridge had it going all game, with the snap of the wrist and net we did not see in the first two games. Even on his made baskets in the second game the shots felt uneasy. Like he was saying, “OK I know I have to shoot this…thank God it went in.” But Friday night, he was all business, scoring 26 points on 12-of-20 shooting.
Another key shot maker for this ball club was Danny Green, who followed up his impressive Game 2 numbers with another good performance on Friday. He had 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 from deep. His shooting is key for the Spurs in the playoffs, so him finding his rhythm these last two games has been huge.
Dejounte Murray came in and got the start in Parker’s absence. His stat line wasn’t anything special and it’s hard to say he did a particularly good job, but he did his job. Popovich went with Murray because he wanted to keep his bench rotations fairly similar to what they were when Parker was in. Murray allowed them to do that, playing 14 minutes and sharing ball handling duties with Kawhi Leonard. While it’d be an added benefit if Murray created some more offense in Game 4, he did what was needed in this one.
Who Can Do More
We saw the role payers for Houston struggle in this one. If you take away James Harden‘s shots, the team went 18-of-60 (30 percent) from the field and just 7-of-26 (27 percent) from three, including zero made baskets by Ryan Anderson, Lou Williams and Nene. Obviously we expect them to pick it up in Game 4, but the Spurs have a few guys who could improve their percentages as well.
As much as Leonard does for this team (26-10-7 on Friday) he wasn’t super efficient (9-for-20) from the floor. He also missed as many free throws this game as he’s missed in the entire playoffs this year (two). For as well as this guy’s been stroking it, it’s hard to imagine he’ll “struggle” like this again. After going 5-of-14 in Game 1, he bounced back to go 13-of-16 in Game 2. Expect something similar next time out.
Patty Mills also scored a good amount (15 points) but on poor percentages (4-of-14 from the field, 2-of-10 from deep). Continuing to play in a sixth man role but now in more minutes (30 on Friday), Mills is going to continue to get shots. Once he finds the rhythm for taking that many shots, it could be scary the numbers he puts up.
I expected a bigger outing in this one from Manu Ginobili. With Parker down I thought he’d step up as the last of “The Big Three” and help the team continue on. Instead, he went 0-of-3 from the field for no points, five rebounds and two assists. It is hard to imagine the Spurs going deep without one vintage Manu game. Either way, the team needs something more than a few rebounds out of their future HOFer.
The San Antonio Spurs are in a good position right now. They didn’t look quite as comfortable with the overall pace in Game 3 playing on the Rockets’ home floor, but as we saw between Games 1 and 2 they should be able to settle in for the next game.
If they do that more of their shots should fall and their defense will remain impressive. These results would allow them to withstand a better night from Houston’s offense, and give the Spurs a chance to go home with a 3-1 series lead.