Well, the Rockets have their task ahead of them:
Win all the home games.
If Houston does that, they will win the series. Their Game 1 win opened the door by switching homecourt advantage 180 degrees.
Now, the Rockets are unlikely to sweep their three homes games, as we mentioned after Game 1. Both the Spurs are Rockets were good road teams this season, and San Antonio already holds two wins at Toyota Center this season.
The Spurs will be without Tony Parker for the rest of the postseason, but of course the Spurs are still a difficult matchup. Parker has had a couple of great games against the Rockets this season, but mostly the Rockets don’t fear him like they do Patty Mills.
Pop doesn’t usually like messing with the bench dynamic, so more likely the shift will be moving a third string player into the starting lineup and subbing him out fairly quickly. That might mean more Dejounte Murray.
Houston has X-factors in their bench brigade and cadre of shooters, but the Spurs have equivalent guys. Jonathan Simmons and Dewayne Dedmon fill those gaps, but so could Murray or another Spur.
It’s cliche to say that a playoff game is the biggest game of the season. But for Houston, Games 3 and 4 are huge. Win both and they’ll be sitting pretty. Split and you’re teetering on the edge. Lose both and there’s no reason to even go to San Antonio for Game 5.
The Rockets need peak Harden tonight. That’s the adjustment.
Prediction: Patty Mills hits 12 triples, leading to Whataburger claiming that the Patty Melt is named after the Australian. They then start calling them Party Melts. Mills gets an orange towel to waive on the bench, and there will be a t-shirt gun with Party Melts wrapped in t-shirts that The Coyote can shoot into the crowd whenever Mills hits a three. Spurs in 5.
Tip-off is at 8:30pm on ESPN. So, no Reggie Miller and no Tony Brothers. The result doesn’t even matter because the product can’t suck as much as Game 2.