Houston Rockets vs. San Antonio Spurs game preview

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets and Spurs face off in Houston tonight. The Rockets won both previous meetings in San Antonio this season.

The Rockets need this one. Badly. Otherwise, they could be starting right in the face of an 0-4 week since the Mavs will have 2 days off before their matchup tomorrow.

I'm going to talk a little soccer, but I promise it applies to basketball. Specifically, it applies to the Spurs. But if you would rather not listen to me make a great connection between a German soccer team and the Spurs, you should head straight to the matchups.

The Champions League is the biggest yearly soccer tournament. It takes the best club teams from Europe from the season before and pits them in a big tournament to determine an overall champion. It's eclipsed any domestic trophy in terms of prestige. It's truly the best of the best, and there's little doubt that being the European champion means you're the best club team in the world. There's a Club World Cup too that involves the champions from every continent, but it's not as prestigious.

Anyway, two years ago Chelsea met Bayern Munich in the Final. Much like the Super Bowl, the site of the final is predetermined and it just happened that Bayern got to play the final in their home stadium. They were the overwhelming favorites even though they would finish second in the Bundesliga that season. On the other side were Chelsea, a proud franchise on tough times. They would finish a disappointing sixth in the Premier League that season and had sacked their manager midway through the season. They were a train wreck.

Yet through a lucky draw, some magic from Didier Drogba, and a meltdown from the usually extraordinary Barcelona, the Blues limped into the final minus their captain (on a red card) and a host of others.

Anyway, you can tell where this is going. Bayern took a lead in extra time, only for Chelsea to even the score line seconds later. Then Chelsea won on penalty kicks, stunning the German team and their fans.

Bayern spent the depressed and worrying. It was a dark time for a side that wasn't used to being disappointed. And they came back with a vengeance.

The team made some big summer signings and went on the "EFF YOU Tour of Europe." They wrapped up the Bundesliga in record time and won both domestic cups. They destroyed everyone on the way to a 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League Final. Then they won the Club World Cup for good measure.

In short, Bayern followed up searing disappointment with an incredible tour de force that saw them vanquish any and all comers.

Doesn't that sound like what the San Antonio Spurs would like to do?

This is the Spurs' "EFF YOU Season." It's their chance to avenge their heartbreaking loss in the Finals when they were 28 seconds away from another NBA championship.

That's why I've picked the Spurs to win the NBA title. Even though they haven't beaten any elite teams this season, I know they will bring their A game in the playoffs and I think they'll pull it out.

Tip off is at 7pm CST.

Matchups:

Point Guard: Patrick Beverley vs. Tony Parker

As always, Tony must dominate Fisher.

NEVER FORGET THAT TONY PARKER IS A FRENCH RAPPER!

Tony Parker - Premier Love Feat. Rickwel (Clip Officiel) (via Guidu691)

It's one of the best and worst music videos ever.

Frankly, this music video needs a full breakdown.

AND YOU'RE GETTING IT RIGHT NOW!

0:00 Ooh that's the Eiffel Tower! I know that one.

0:07 Tony Parker is looking straight up at the heavens. Because he's deep and shit.

0:08 Holy crap there's a Sun/white light behind Tony! Is this a metaphor that he's angel or is it bad camera work? MAYBE BOTH!

0:26 MOTHER OF GOD TONY PARKER IS RAPPING!!!

0:31 It's taken me 5 seconds to realize that Tony doesn't sound terrible. Mainly because 1) he's rapping in French and I have no idea what he's saying, and 2) this piano in the background is absolutely killing it.

0:32 So there's a story to this song. There's two kids that I guess are teenagers that are hanging out in the gym. You know, first love and whatnot. The guy is black and the girl is white. Let's see if this becomes important.

0:32-1:00 Tony Parker is so locked in on this rap it's disgusting. Either that, or he's having to focus hard on reading the cue cards in front of him. And that piano is still tearing it up.

1:01 We get our first glimpse of this "Rickwel" guy. He must be a real rapper.

1:07 All this PDA from the teenagers is going to make me barf. Let's move this along.

1:08 Sweet someone knows English!

1:09 Rickwel looks like Jaden Smith from Karate Kid, if Jaden Smith's life took a turn for the worse.

1:18 The male teenager's mouth is open and he back-hugs the girl. Weird shot. Someone in editing needs to be fired.

1:31 Tony Parker in a smoky gym with his back to the stanchion. This time, he's holding a piece of paper with the lyrics. That's why he's looking down, presumably. HOW COULD EVA LONGORIA LEAVE THIS MAN? Oh yeah, the affair. Moving along...

1:34 If you took the under on "When will there be basketball in this music video," you lost. The male teenager is playing in a high school basketball game where 1) There's five people in the audience and 2) a guy on the opposing team is wearing a doo-rag. Because France. Also, there are advertisements on the court.

1:47 With maybe the worst shooting form in the history of ever, the guy hits the game-winning shot and his girlfriend is happy.

2:01 For some reason, the girlfriend is no longer happy. This escalated quickly.

2:06 Guy teenager is signing autographs (seriously?) and his girl is not cool with that.

2:24 The girl tries to run away but he grabs her. Then she escapes.

2:30 OH MY GOD THE BOYFRIEND WAS TONY PARKER THE WHOLE TIME!!!

2:39 The guy covers the girl's eyes and play's "Guess who?" Note: in France it's super easy to make up after a fight apparently.

2:55 Rickwel is rapping in French now. He and Tony are in wife-beaters. Because France.

3:25 The music video ends with the guy leaving the girl. He's taking a duffel bag. I believe we are supposed to think that he's heading to the NBA, a la Tony Parker. Except that dude sucks, so he's probably on his way to the Z-League.

And there you have it. DO YOU SEE WHAT I DO FOR YOU?

Advantage: Spurs

Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Manu Ginobili

Cory Joseph started against the Heat, but Manu will probably get a ton of minutes here. Harden has owned the Spurs in fourth quarters in the previous two meetings, and he may need another kickstart since playing the Grizzlies always seems to reset him back to zero.

Frankly, the Rockets can't succeed if Harden isn't attacking and creating.

Here's hoping his thumb is okay.

Advantage: Rockets

Small Forward: Chandler Parsons vs. Marco Belinelli

Rockets get a break (sorry, bad pun) here after Kawhi Leonard fractured his hand.

Or do they?

Leonard hasn't played well against the Rockets, but Beli has. His three point shooting has plummeted from an unreasonable 245% (all stats approximate) to a much more mortal very good elite 48%.

Danny Green is also injured, in case you were wondering.

Advantage: Rockets

Power Forward: Terrence Jones vs. Boris Diaw

Boris Diaw is my basketball doppelganger.

I think Simmons talked about this last year (WHO SAYS NO???). Everyone has an NBA player that they play like in pickup games, whether they mean to or not. Obviously, no pickup player is on the same level as an NBA player. But if pickup games were of NBA quality, I would be Boris Diaw.

He's rarely going to be the best player in the game (like, never), but he can do a little bit of everything. He can shoot and his passing is criminally underrated. He's passable on defense. I'd like to think I'm a better rebounder than him.

TDS, who is your NBA doppelganger? And let's limit this to non-superstars. Because I know Allen will say Dirk just to piss me off.

Advantage: Even

Center: Dwight Howard vs. Tim Duncan

I want to talk about something I've noticed regarding the Spurs' pick-and-roll defense, especially when the big man can't shoot.

In the new statistically-happy NBA, every team wants to take away the three and the layup. Those are the basic principles for most teams. No interior defender embodies that like Tim Duncan.

Whenever Harden comes off a pick where Duncan is guarding the big (usually Howard but sometimes Jones), Duncan defends where every coach hates for his defender to stand.

It's called "no-man's land," except in the NBA, that's the point. Duncan doesn't blitz or hedge, nor does he back all the way to the basket to cover the roll man. Instead, he stands in the middle of the paint and takes away the layup. At the same time, he's covering the roll man by being in the area of a dive. Basically, Duncan is daring Harden to take a midrange jumper, which he never wants to do. But I've seen Harden take more shots in the 15-foot range in these two games than I've seen him take in the rest of the season combined.

Just something I've noticed.

Advantage: Even

Bench

Rockets: Jeremy Lin, Omri Casspi, Greg Smith (maybe), Donatas Motiejunas

Spurs: Cory Joseph (he starts), Aron Baynes (AIR-BAYNES!), Matt Bonner (the Medium Fundamental or Red Rocket), Jeff Ayers, Nando de Colo, Patty Mills, Othyus Jeffers

Advantage: Spurs

Prediction: Spurs get their revenge, 105-98.

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