San Antonio Spurs vs Houston Rockets

The surging Spurs led by Demar DeRozan take on James Harden and the Houston Rockets on Friday, March 22nd at 8:00 PM EST at Toyota Center in Houston, TX. The broadcast is available on NBATV, Fox Sports Southwest - San Antonio, and AT&T Sportsnet - Southwest; radio is available via WOAI 1200AM and 790 AM.

How to Watch

What: San Antonio Spurs vs Houston Rockets

Where: Toyota Center in Houston, TX

When: Friday, March 22nd at 8:00 PM EST

How (TV/Radio): NBATV, Fox Sports Southwest - San Antonio, AT&T Sportsnet - Southwest | WOAI 1200AM, 790 AM

San Antonio Spurs (Away)

Head Coach: Gregg Popvich {All-Time 1239-571 | SAS}

The San Antonio Spurs enter this match coming off of a loss to the Eastern Conference's Miami Heat. Besides that recent loss, they have been brilliant. With a record of 42-30, the San Antonio Spurs are sixth in the West and tied with the Clippers and Thunder.

Concerning the Spurs' recent run, it is clear that Gregg Popovich's team is gearing up for the playoffs. With a record of 9-1 in their last ten, the Spurs are looking to take fourth from the Portland Trail Blazers. Slightly going against them is the fact that despite the Spurs' brilliance, they are a mere 13-22 on the road and are taking on the Rockets in one of the NBA's most electric arenas.

The Spurs face off against a Houston Rockets team that lost a close overtime affair against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Spurs defense wasn't up to standard against the Heat, allowing the opposition to shoot 46% from the field and 46% from three. They will need to tighten up their defense if they want to defeat the hot shooting Rockets.

Houston Rockets (Home)

Head Coach: Mike D'Antoni {All-Time 620-497 | DEN, PHX, NYK, LAL, HOU}

The Houston Rockets are coming off of a recent loss to a young but gritty Memphis Grizzlies team. The Rockets currently sit at third in the Western Conference with a mere half-game separating themselves from the Portland Trail Blazers who sit in fourth. with a record of 45-27, they are only 3.5 games back from second, but would need a tremendous winning streak to go with a Nuggets losing streak to overtake them.

The Rockets have been playing brilliant basketball as of late, putting forward an 8-2 record in their last ten. Led by James Harden's scoring ability, they've been able to both dominate their competition and perform in clutch situations to take home multiple victories.

Houston should be wary of a disciplined San Antonio Spurs side. An afterthought after losing Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs are now making their case as a dark horse to come out of the Western Conference. DeRozan as a scorer is in a tier not far from Harden and they have many veteran pieces like Aldridge and Mills that can dismantle a defense in a hurry.

What's At Stake?

Texas rivals, the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets have met an incredible 196 times in the span of their club histories. Despite the lengthy rivalry, the Spurs lead the Rockets 108-88 all-time.

A win for the Spurs would separate them from the Clippers and Thunder and bring them equal with the Jazz in game difference.

A win for the Rockets would give them a whole game lead over the Trail Blazers who are chasing them in fourth place.

Questions to answer

What can be taken from the Spurs' last loss?

Why did the Rockets struggle against the Grizzlies?

We are going to compare the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

The San Antonio Spurs' Lost Their First In Their Last Ten

The ride wasn't going to last forever but the San Antonio Spurs finally dropped a game to the dangerous Miami Heat. It wasn't a notable game for anyone and frankly speaking the Spurs played well overall. Unfortunately, the Heat were able to come out the victor partially due to the Hassan Whiteside's presence in the paint.

One thing to take away is the fact that the Aldridge-Poeltl frontcourt is likely on its last legs. Jakob Poeltl was an absolute steal for the San Antonio Spurs in the Kawhi Leonard trade and his play as of late reveals why the Toronto Raptors wanted to keep him a secret from the league. He's long and quick on his feet and has a penchant for blocking shots at the right moment.

Unfortunately he doesn't offer much on offense and there is a limit to the value of a quick center with the speed of today's NBA. But the Spurs' strength in depth is commendable. Patty Mills scored five threes of the bench and Marco Belinelli is as dangerous a shooter as ever. It looks like the Spurs will be a team to look out for in the NBA Playoffs.

The Rockets Were Dominated Inside

Losing by a single point rarely suggests that a team was dominated in a match. But for most of the game, the Grizzlies were in control due to their size and skill in the paint. The combination of Jonas Valanciunas and Joakim Noah stifled the Rockets in the paint, while Bruno Caboclo and Delon Wright provided significant problems as defenders on the wing.

The Rockets struggle with size, they are a "small" team that thrives off of grittiness and speed on the break and the half court. Unfortunately, the Rockets allowed for Valanciunas to go for an easy 33 points and 15 rebounds. While Nene was inserted to try and control him, Valanciunas is too skilled and he iced the Rockets with a late offensive rebound and free-throws.

It points to a central problem for the Rockets. What will they do when the opposition attacks them in the paint? While the NBA has gone toward a pace-and-space style of play, a grinding game - much like the playoffs tend to be - wears on the Rockets' rather diminutive players. They have the tools to succeed, but in a D'Antoni offense focused on scoring their defense is rarely considered.

San Antonio Spurs Roster Notes

G Dejounte Murray - 13 Mar 2019 - Out For Season (Knee) - Murray is making progress and is practicing on his own, but he's not expected to play this season, according to Jeff Garcia of FOXSanAntonio.com. He had ACL surgery on his knee before the season started.

Houston Rockets Roster Notes

F-C Kenneth Faried - 20 Mar 2019 - Out (Knee) - Faried is OUT for Wednesday's (Mar 20) game.

G Eric Gordon - 19 Mar 2019 - Out (Rest) - Gordon has been ruled OUT for Wednesday's (Mar 20) game.

F-C Isaiah Hartenstein - 20 Mar 2019 - Out (Achilles) - Hartenstein is listed as OUT for Wednesday's (Mar. 20) game against the Grizzlies.

Head-to-Head: Demar Derozan (SAS) vs James Harden (HOU)

The primary playmakers for their teams and two of the NBA's most deadly isolation scorers, James Harden and Demar DeRozan meet again. A master of the mid-range, DeRozan is uniquely equipped to take Harden out of the game on the offensive end. The same goes for Harden, but he will have to compete with the Spurs' testy defense.

Demar Derozan

Shooting Guard | 6-7, 220lb (201cm, 99kg) | USC | Exp. 9 Years

21.5 PPG | 6.1 APG | 6.3 RPG | 1.1 SPG | 0.5 BPG | 2.6 TOV | .476 FG% | .163 3P%

Demar DeRozan was efficient in his last match for the San Antonio Spurs, but it wasn't enough to take them over the edge. His role as a primary playmaker has buoyed the Spurs offense, but his scoring is down compared to his Toronto years. With an almost non-focus on the three-point shot, DeRozan is forced to become a post playmaker at times where the Spurs are not always comfortable. He will certainly look to take advantage of the Rockets' weaker defenders to become more active in the scoring column.

James Harden

Shooting Guard | 6-5, 220lb (196cm, 99kg) | Arizona State | Exp. 9 Years

36.1 PPG | 7.7 APG | 6.5 RPG | 2.2 SPG | 0.8 BPG | 5.1 TOV | .436 FG% | .358 3P%

It took all of James Harden's effort against the Grizzlies to keep them competitive, but a late-game foul forced a loss for the Rockets. Harden contributed 57 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds in the loss. Beyond Harden's control was the lack of contribution from his supporting cast. Chris Paul was 6-17 and Austin Rivers did little in 15 minutes. Should Harden try to shoulder the burden on his own? Or do more to spoon-feed his teammates. Time will tell, but there's nothing to suggest Harden won't have another spectacular game.

San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets Predictions and Odds

The oddsmakers have the Houston Rockets favored over the San Antonio Spurs by 6, with an over/under of 110.

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