Game 5: Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs

This will be one of my briefest previews to date. I'm in kind of a bad mood as I write this, and kind of feeling overwhelmed.

But you guys don't care about my problems. Nor should you. This is not for sympathy. I just wanted to explain what will end up being a pretty crappy preview. It should be the last time this happens. I'm sorry.

Update: after writing it, the preview actually isn't very short at all. Enjoy!

The Rockets...well, you know.

San Antonio is 3-1, with their one loss being against the Hornets at home. Tim Duncan has looked like the Timmy of old, and the Spurs look scary early, which is very unlike them. They like to start slow and finish fast.

Here's to hoping the Rockets are trying to emulate how the Spurs used to operate. Imagine, if they could start slow and still win the championship, then think of how well we're going to do after getting off to an even worse start then they usually did. I'm thinking the Rockets just enter the Olympics as an at-large team and just wreck shop.

On to the good stuff.

Matchups:

PG: Aaron Brooks vs. Tony Parker

Both players bring similar things to the table. Both are quick and can get to the hoop. Tony is a better passer and Aaron is a better shooter, especially from behind the arc. Neither of them can play much defense.

Kyle Lowry did not make the trip with the team, so he's out.

It's a tie, which at this point will always go against the Rockets, so...

Advantage: Spurs

SG: Kevin Martin vs. Manu Ginobili:

Remember when Manu used to come off the bench and play 35 minutes and game and everyone called him a sixth man? One of my pet peeves with the NBA is that a player can lead his team in minutes and still be considered a sixth man. So, what you're telling me is that if LeBron sat out the opening tip and came in on the first dead ball, he would be the sixth man of the year. Just stupid.

Kevin missed three free throws against the Hornets. Those are important, especially from a player who had not missed one coming into the game. I don't expect him to be perfect, but save those misses for blowout, Speed Racer.

Manu is averaging 20/6, which kind of makes this pretty close to a tie again. In that case...

Advantage: Spurs

SF: Shane Battier vs. Richard Jefferson

I've seen the Spurs a couple of times this year, and the biggest difference between this year's team and last is Tim Duncan's resurgence. A close second is the emergence of Richard Jefferson.

RJ is playing the way the Spurs wanted him to last season. With a year of the Spurs' system under his belt, he's starting to come into his own. Plus, with the financial security of a new contract, he won't push the issue to the detriment of the team.

I'm not sure who Shane will guard. He'll have a difficult assignment either way. I look for Courtney Lee to get serious minutes so he can match up with whoever Shane doesn't guard. However, I have no clue what goes through Adelman's mind, so he might not play either of them.

Advantage: Spurs

PF: Luis Scola vs. Tim Duncan: 

The greatest power forward in NBA history is having a revival kind of year so far. It's not in the stats, so don't look at them. I know you'll see that he went 2-10 with 7/7 in their loss against the Hornets, but you won't mention that two games later he lit it up, going for 25/17 on 11-13 shooting in 33 minutes. To which you'll reply: "But he was playing the Suns. Stats in that game don't count." Fair enough.

But just watch him. He's finally healthy again, and he can sense his window is closing. He also knows that they have the team to win the West this year. Sure, their bench depth is suspect. Once you get past George Hill and possible Tiago Splitter, there isn't much there. Sure, James Anderson could be good. And we know what Garrett Temple can do. But name me a coach better at getting the most out his bit pieces than Gregg Popovich.

And maybe I'm the only one who sees the Tim Duncan thing. If that's the case, just humor me.

Advantage: Spurs

C: Yao Ming/Others vs. DeJuan Blair:

Blair and Duncan are interchangeable at the 4 and 5.

Blair has gotten off to a rough start this season. There was a little bit of hype surrounding him before the season started. He lost some weight in the offseason, and looked really good in the preseason. However, he's still averaging 4/6, while he averaged 8/6 last season.

It's not a huge difference, and most Rockets fans who like statistics would say, "Well, with RJ scoring more, of course Blair's numbers are down. He's probably playing more efficiently though." Those Rockets fans would be wrong.

It's only 4 games in (a recurring theme around here), but these are the facts: Blair is only averaging 4/6, but he's also getting 6 extra minutes over last year and not making the most of it. He's shooting an abysmal 23%. For someone whose shots mostly come at the rim, that's pretty bad. He's also averaging a healthy 2.5 turnovers a game in the young season.

And before anyone says I think Blair is a bad player, I liked him at Pitt and fully expect him to get back on track. Most likely tonight. Most players in the Association are probably circling the Rockets on their calendar and thinking, "That's when I'm gonna get mine."

Yao may not play since the Rockets have a back-to-back with Minnesota coming to town tomorrow. That game is more winnable even without Yao, so I expect Yao to play tonight.

Advantage: Rockets

---

Bench:

Spurs: George Hill, Garrett Temple, James Anderson, Gary Neal, Antonio McDyess, Tiago Splitter

Rockets: Your guess is as good as mine. 

Advantage: Rockets. I hope to be able to say that 78 more times this season.

Injuries:

Spurs: Matt Bonner out, George Hill questionable

Rockets: Lowry out

Prediction: Rockets lose by 10. It won't be that close.

Rockets vs Spurs coverage

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