Game 74 Preview & Gamethread: Rockets at Spurs

The Rockets have always been unlucky. Maybe not cursed, but certainly unlucky. That has been truly evident in their last couple of games.

I believe that every NBA team tries to win every one of its games. With that being said, some games are worth more than others, and the Rockets seem to be "that game" for a lot of teams recently. To recap, the Wizards were a desperate team on a 15-game losing streak and needed a win badly. The Lakers had lost to the Thunder the night before playing us and Kobe had only 11 points to go along with 9 turnovers. Oh, and they had scored fewer than 80 points for the first time all season. They were pissed. Speaking of the Thunder, when we went to OKC, they had just lost two games in a row and their playoff seeding was looking bad. They had not beaten us in years and were looking to get the monkey off their backs.

Now, the Rockets get the reeling Spurs. Reeling because they committed the cardinal sin for good teams: they lost to the Nets. Yes, Manu and Tony Parker didn't play, but still. The loss gave the Nets their 10th win, so they won't be the worst NBA team of all time. Tim Duncan had 13/11, but had a +/- of -11, the worst of the game.

So the Rockets play another playoff team who's hungry for a win. Manu will most likely play and Spurs fans love him so much. I bet if he hit a poor, defenseless bat out of the sky, they would love that. Oh wait...

Most importantly, please come up with a good caption for the picture. I will put the best one there.

Update: "Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry catches a glimpse of a full moon through an open Toyota Center window." Thanks Moondebah for the caption. Hilarious.

Point Guard

Aaron Brooks vs. George Hill

Hill has done a decent job since Parker went down, and they'll need him to help more with the playoffs fast approaching. In his last five games he's averaging 19/5/3. I like him, and I remember when he was drafted and 90% of the people I knew who follow basketball religiously had no clue who the guy was. Well, he's a legitimate NBA talent.

Parker won't be back until the last week of the regular season. Until then, AB is better.

Edge: Rockets

Shooting Guard

Jermaine Taylor vs. Manu Ginobili

I love this quote, so I'm going to lead with it here.

"He couldn’t put his pants on," coach Gregg Popovich said of Ginobili.

Manu won WC Player of the Week last week, an award we all know should have gone to his fellow Argentine. He sat out against the Nets with back spasms, but I doubt he'll sit anymore. He said after the game that they were no big deal, and it does look like he'll come ready to play against our guys.

When they played in Houston, Manu had 8 points and 11 boards, but he shot 13% from the field. If you're hoping for a repeat performance, I'd say don't hold your breath.

Also, I'm always astounded by how good Daryl Morey is. I shouldn't be, but I am. This Jermaine Taylor guy (and those Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger guys) is an amazing rookie. Get him some years under his belt and he could be a monster. Unfortunately, Manu is the better player right now.

Edge: Spurs

Small Forward

Trevor Ariza vs. Richard Jefferson

RJ has struggled this year, and its mainly due to an inability to integrate into the offense. He's no Bruce Bowen, but his defense is better than most. All of his numbers are down, but he's playing fewer minutes than normal and taking fewer shots per game, all while shooting a better percentage from the field. He had 16/11 against the Celtics, which I'm sure is nice to see if you're a Spurs fan.

We'll know if Jefferson was worth the money in the playoffs. Much like Ron Artest and Shaq, RJ's job this season was to play well during the season, but remain healthy enough to make a difference in the playoffs. I expect Jefferson to play well and make the Spurs the team that the Lakers, Mavs, and Nuggets all hope to avoid in the first round. Maybe the Spurs will get to play beat the Jazz in the first round.

Edge: Spurs

Power Forward

Luis Scola vs. Tim Duncan

When they last met in Houston, these two could not have had more opposite games. Scola had 30/13, and Duncan had 17/8. Statistically, it's not a glaring difference, but the body language was important, too. Duncan looked frustrated the entire game, and that's probably why Pop had him sit most of the fourth quarter. Duncan also picked up a technical foul in the game.

Recently, Scola has torched his former team (yes, I know he never played for them). He always brings his A game against them and seems too quick for the Spurs to defend. Since the Spurs' big men don't stray too far from the basket (except that walking stereotype Matt Bonner), Scola is able to play his style of defense. Taking these facts into account, I've gotta call this a push.

Edge: Even

Center

Chuck Hayes vs. Antonio McDyess

McDyess really isn't a bad player (6/6 per game). He's just old. Though it should be mentioned that his last name is just awesome. Just say it aloud. I know, right?

In fact, when you look at the Spurs' roster, the glaring weakness is the frontcourt. Once you get past Tim Duncan, there's really nobody. I like Blair, and he killed us last time, but he's not going to carry this team once Duncan stops producing. I'm not sure when that will be, but hopefully for Rockets fans it's soon.

Edge: Rockets

Bench

Spurs: Keith Bogans, DeJuan Blair, Matt Bonner, Malik Hairston, and our good friend Garrett Temple

Rockets: Chase Budinger, Kyle Lowry, Mike Harris, Jordan Hill, Hilton Armstrong

Edge: Spurs-remember, their bench almost beat us last time

Out

Spurs: Tony Parker(hand), Roger Mason Jr. (finger: day-to-day-might play)

Rockets: Everyone who isn't healthy

Prediction: Spurs because they're pissed, they're at home, and they need it. Spurs by 15.

Rockets vs Spurs coverage

Pounding The Rock

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