Tonight’s game between the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs will go a long way toward determining the winner of the Southwest Division. At the very least, the game will determine the tiebreaker between these two teams. If Houston wins, they win the tiebreaker outright on the back of a 3-1 head-to-head record. If San Antonio wins, the Spurs win the tiebreaker due to a better division record than Houston.
The Spurs sit three games back of the Rockets, but just had a 9-game winning streak of their own snapped. San Antonio found their groove after a disastrous Rodeo Road Trip in February. Before their loss Wednesday to Dwyane Wade and the Heat, the Spurs had knocked off the likes of the Thunder, Nuggets, Bucks, Blazers, and Warriors. Much like Houston’s recent surge, the Spurs have turned things up on the defensive end. The Spurs have been allowing 110 points per game this season, but over this stretch they have only allowed 101 points for their opponents. While points per game is a flawed metric due to pace of play, for comparison’s sake the stingiest defense in the NBA belongs to the Indiana Pacers, who allow 104 points per game.
Both teams are fairly well known at this point. The Rockets will run their offense through their two all-world point guards, while San Antonio will run their offense through all-world Rockets killers DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge.
The supporting casts are similar too. Houston has its cast of characters, while San Antonio has benefited from the development of Jakob Poetl and Derrick White. They’ll also lean on the experience of Rudy Gay, Marco Belinelli, Patty Mills, and Davis Bertans. In addition to Bryn Forbes, that Spurs group features shooters that can help spread the floor for their two stars who own the midrange and block areas, giving San Antonio great floor balance.
With OKC’s collapse, it appears that Houston and Portland will be fighting for the third seed in the West unless someone runs the table from the 5-8 group. With about 10 games left, you can expect the standings to change on a nightly basis. With Denver’s refusal to lose, this is easily one of Houston’s biggest remaining games.
Tip-off is at 7pm CT on NBA TV