I’m setting the over/under on number of times we’re going to have to see a replay of Manu Ginobili blocking James Harden in Game 5 at 3.5.
You should take the over.
The Rockets won’t have Trevor Ariza or Eric Gordon today, and Chris Paul is questionable. The guess here is that CP3 could have played against Orlando but the Rockets figured they could beat the Magic without him. Now with EG hurt, the Point God will probably be asked to play.
Again, playing the Spurs is a big one for the Rockets. The narrative revolves around Houston’s collapse in Games 5 and 6, specifically the poor play of James Harden against a Kawhi Leonard-less Spurs squad. Sure, Houston beat the Spurs earlier this year in a romp, but until the Rockets beat the Spurs in a playoff series, they’re doomed to hear about how they don’t match up with the Spurs. And to a certain extent, that’s fair.
Houston sits four games ahead of the Spurs and six up in the loss column. San Antonio is 22-4 at home, good for the best mark in the NBA. Kawhi or not, the Rockets are entering a hostile environment in front of a national audience ready to watch Harden wilt.
The game isn’t just about Harden, though. Incredibly, the Rockets are allowed to place other players on the court besides Harden, and they need to step up because 60-point triple doubles aren’t going to be a common occurrence. (By the way, I’m looking forward to seeing how the media takes this MVP away from Harden. I heard they are convening an emergency meeting during All-Star weekend to figure out their strategy.)
Anyway, this should be a good one, but if Houston isn’t healthy, San Antonio will hold the edge even without Kawhi.
Tip-off is at 7pm CT on TNT