Southwest Showdown: Rockets Host Rival Spurs

Scott Halleran - Getty Images

The Houston Rockets will try to outrun the San Antonio Spurs this Sunday afternoon. Forget football, let Jeremy Lin fill the void in your life with some good, old fashioned preseason basketball.

The undefeated Houston Rockets will welcome an old, and I do mean old, rival this afternoon at the Toyota Center. With Kevin Martin and Patrick Patterson given the day off we'll get our first look at an extremely young and fast starting five. Which team is going to take preseason more seriously? The new look Rockets can run circles around the Spurs but will that be enough to chalk up a W? Today's game will be nationally broadcast on NBA TV so tune in at 1 PM CST. Check out Kevin McHale's pre-game interview at NBA.com.

Matchups:

PG: Jeremy Lin vs. Tony Parker

Gregg Popovich has no reason to play his vets and a history of doing just that. I think we're likely to see one of the "old three", but Tony Parker played Friday in San Antonio. Patrick Mills is going to have a minimal impact. I'll be looking forward to seeing how Euroleague vet and NBA rookie combo guard Nando de Colo plays. He had nine assists in 28 minutes on Friday and I fully expect him to be the back up point guard for the Spurs when the season begins.

I'm excited about Jeremy Lin this afternoon. Lin has looked more confident and familiar with his teammates as the preseason has progressed. While debuting with an above average run offensively in Houston, Lin hasn't really roped the average Houstonian into his epic saga. Today he's got a great opportunity to showcase his game against what might be an inexperienced guard. This Sunday, Lin will be back in the national spotlight and he will be giving his fans nationwide their first look at Lin since his injury in New York.

I'm tempted to make a pun here, but I digress. Unless Tony Parker is on the floor, Jeremy Lin has got this match up in the bag.

SG: Jeremy Lamb vs. Danny Green

Kevin martin has the day off. I'm interested to see what Jeremy Lamb can do in a starter's role. We know that Lamb can play offensively but I'll be fascinated to see how well he can guard Manu Ginobili off the bench (if he plays).

SF: Chandler Parsons vs. Kawhi Leonard

I hadn't thought about it just now, but Parsons and Leonard are pretty comparable players. Both are young, explosive, defensive minded wings who can shoot the three ball and are asked to shut down opposing team's studs. Kawhi Leonard might be the better player and the Spurs are looking for him to take the reigns to the franchise once Timmy and co. call it a career. I think that Leonard is going to be given more opportunities to impact the game and I think he will end up winning this match up.

PF: Terrance Jones vs. Tim Duncan

If Tim Duncan starts, it's going to be up to Terrance Jones to keep an eye on Mr. Fundamentals. Duncan had a 20 point game on Friday and can always fill it up. Like Tony Parker, it's very likely that Duncan doesn't play tonight but Popovich likes winning in Houston so I'm throwing him in anyway. I'm hoping Terrance Jones gets some needed exposure to a future NBA hall of famer.

C: Omer Asik vs. DeJuan Blair

Asik has looked excellent and Dejuan Blair is not the kind of player who is going to give him problems. I predict impressive things from the Turkish Delight whose confidence must be through the roof right now.

Players to watch: Spurs

The geriatric ward is always a threat. If Parker, Ginobili, and Duncan all play tonight the Rockets get their second look at a playoff team.

Manorexia has hit Eddy Curry hard. In pursuit of a paycheck, it looks like Curry decided to lay off the cheeseburgers and focus on his strengths.

With you've got Stephen Jackson, Derrick Brown, Gary Neal and Boris Diaw on your bench you're bound to find a contributor. Any one of these guys could step up at a moment's notice.

Players to watch: Rockets

The entire starting line-up is going to have a slightly different flow. They're going to be less experienced, but faster. There's going to be more athleticism and less defense.

Terrance Jones has a lot of inertia right now.

Kevin Martin, Royce White, Toney Douglas, and Patrick Patterson will not play.

Donatas Motiejunas. He's fun.

Jeremy Lin.

Well folks, it's your turn. What are your thoughts, predictions, and comments?

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