Game 67 Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets

I understand that David Stern and the schedule makers want to screw over the Rockets. I get it, and I will let it go eventually. I've already come to expect and anticipate most of the scheduling "decisions."

Back-to-backs on the road where the opponent has been off for three days? Bring it on. 7 games in 9 days after the all-star break? Let's do it. Currently having played three more games than your competitors for playoff seeding? The schedule doesn't know who we'll be competing against, so that's cool. But what I hate has been the imbalance of home and away games between the first and second halves of the season.

Everyone sounds super-duper excited that the Rockets have plenty of home games left, and it's a blessing. But it's definitely a blessing in disguise. Just for a minute come with me back to your childhood (or your children's childhood) when the movie Beauty and the Beast captured your heart and attention.

Besides being the only animated film to ever be nominated for best picture (Up and Toy Story 3 are CG, so they don't count), the movie has a lesson wrapped in a box that even Goldberg from the Mighty Ducks would think is smelly. But I digress.

In the movie, a witch comes to the door of the prince, but he's a jerk, so she (spoilers!) turns him into a beast. Through the movie, he has to find love, be a better person, yada yada yada. And he does, so we're all supposed to be nicer people who don't judge books by their covers, right?

But wait! What if Gaston (the villain) had come to the door before the witch and the prince told him to get lost? He would have been avoiding a world of trouble, because Gaston probably would have killed him and taken his money and dancing teapots and candles. The Beast had to overcome an arbitrary deadline and prove he was worthy of his stature. What if he learned his lesson later? Would it have been any less of a valid point? Yes and no.

And now is when we come back to reality.

The Rockets (the Beast) have been screwed over by the witch (David Stern) with a deadline (the end of the regular season) and an "invaluable" yet inconvenient lesson (a tough early schedule).

Could the Rockets have overcome their early season woes with a more favorable early schedule? You could argue that playing bad teams early would have given the Rockets a chance to win games while also figuring out their own issues. Did you know that the Rockets played both the Spurs and Mavs in San Antonio and Dallas twice before either of those teams set foot in Houston? You could say that they benefited from the schedule. Those teams would have turned human well before the last petal fell off the rose. The Rockets have figured their own issues way too late for some, but isn't the lesson valid nevertheless? So what if the schedule had worked the other way?

I don't know what I would do to solve the issue or anything. I just thought I'd make a ridiculous stretch and see if anyone followed me through it and thought it made an iota of sense. Call me crazy in the comments.

The game is slated to start at 7:30pm CST. Every team ahead of the Rockets in the West is competing tonight, except for OKC and Phoenix. So there should be some movement. Maybe.

Update: Scola is out again. Hill will most likely start.

Matchups...

PG: Kyle Lowry vs. Tony Parker:

For all your Kyle Lowry info, check out Tom's recent piece about him. Am I being lazy? Yes. Yes I am. Mainly because my head hurts from above. And on the subject of Dragic, he's been playing more like a Dragon than Groan Tragic.

Parker was supposed to be out for 2-4 weeks. Then he found Brent Barry's wife some remedy that helped him get through the pain. They need him desperately. San Antonio has largely avoided the injury bug this season, and that's really the big reason why you can say they've been so incredible this season. They're good, no doubt about it. But there are several teams in the West that could be pretty darn good if none of their best players ever got injured for a season.

Advantage: Spurs

SG: Kevin Martin vs. Manu Ginobili

One issue I've had with Adelman is his treatment of opposing two guards who can win games on their own. Instead of letting Courtney Lee loose, he leaves K-Mart in games. I think I've said that I like Adelman enough times, and I get that the majority of our offense at times comes from Kevin Martin. However, when he consistently gets beaten, the Rockets are basically playing 5-on-4. Lee needs to be in games to at least pester opposing wings.

It doesn't help either that Kevin Martin has looked like a fool on both sides of the court for the last week. Seriously, who is that guy?

And that Manu Ginobili guy is pretty good. Even if he is a flopper.

Raja Bell-Manu Ginobili Double Flop (via memoismoney)

Advantage: Spurs

SF: Chase Budinger vs. Richard Jefferson

I have no clue how this will turn out. Jefferson is more consistent, but Chase could go off at any moment. He generally plays better when he's had rest, in my limited sample size of a memory.

Advantage: Even?

PF: Luis Scola vs. Tim Duncan:

Scola does love to kill the team that never brought him to America, but I hear good things about that Duncan guy. I hear Duncanville is named after him, but I'm so gullible I believe in global warming.

Plus, Scola was practically nonexistent against the Suns. He posted a pitiful stat line.

Advantage: Spurs

C: Chuck Hayes vs. Antonio McDyess:

It's a generic name versus a kick-ass name. It's the undersized center versus the old veteran. Alabama versus Kentucky.

DeJaun "I Will Break You To Get a Rebound" Blair normally starts, but Pop started McDyess the other night against Detroit, and it looks like it might become permanent.

Advantage: Rockets

---

Bench:

Spurs: George Hill, Gary Neal, Matt Bonner, DeJuan Blair (someone box him out!), James Anderson, Tiago Splitter, and (for Tom) Steve Novak

Rockets: Goran Dragic, Courtney LeeBrad MillerTerrence WilliamsPatrick PattersonJordan Hill, Hasheem Thabeet (just to shut up BD even more)

Advantage: Even

Injuries:

Spurs: (Uncontrollable laughter)

Rockets: Yao out

Prediction: Rockets shock the world (ESPN) and win this one 108-104

Spurs vs Rockets coverage

Pounding The Rock

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