The state of Texas is guaranteed to have one team in the Western Conference Finals as the second-seeded San Antonio Spurs and third-seeded Houston Rockets open their conference semifinals series on Monday night. The Spurs took the first round against the Memphis Grizzlies, ending the series at 4-2. The Rockets won the series against the Oklahoma City Thunder last Tuesday, finishing it at 4-1. The Spurs are NBA odds favorites for the series and in Game 1.
Houston at San Antonio NBA Playoffs Odds & Game 1 Preview
Why Bet On Houston?
Will Houston star James Harden get enough help from his supporting cast? Will Harden be guarded often by Kawhi Leonard? He’s widely acclaimed as the best defender in the NBA and the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Houston ranked No. 3 in regular-season pace and they want to play even faster against the Spurs, who were No. 1 on defense.
“We have to play faster,” Eric Gordon said. “I think we have to play fast to get great shooting opportunities, to get open looks. That’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to push the pace up.”
Harden is averaging 33.2 points, 7.0 assists and 6.4 rebounds this postseason. In NBA history, only 4 players have averaged at least 33.0 ppg, 7.0 apg and 6.0 rpg in a single postseason. He’s the 1st guard with 71+ FTA through the first five games of playoffs since Jerry West in 1965.
Sam Dekker (hand) said that he will be available to play in Game 1 vs. the Spurs on Monday. Dekker underwent surgery to repair his fractured left hand back on April 3. He is on schedule, as he was expected to be sidelined 3-4 weeks. Dekker averaged 6.5 points and 3.7 rebounds in 18.4 minutes per contest during the regular season. However, Houston played well in the first round, eliminating the Thunder in five games. It will be difficult for Dekker to squeeze his way into coach Mike D’Antoni’s eight-man rotation after the success Houston had vs. OKC.
The Rockets were 1-3 vs. the Spurs this season. Harden averaged 29.8 ppg, 11.8 apg and 9.0 rpg and shot 47.0% from the floor but 29.4% from 3-point range (59.2% inside-the- arc). Gordon averaged 16.8 ppg on 41.8% shooting and had 12 3FGM in the four games (35.5% 3FGs). Clint Capela averaged 12.0 ppg and 7.7 rpg in three games but had just 2 blocks. Ryan Anderson: 10.0 ppg (28.9% FGs, 35.0% 3FGs), 6.3 rpg. Patrick Beverley missed the first two games. He averaged 7.5 ppg (37.5% FGs, 33.3% 3FGs) and 9.0 rpg over final two games but had just 2 assists.
Houston was 2-1 in games decided by four or fewer points in its First Round series vs. Oklahoma City after going 11-3 in such games during the regular season (11-10 in 2015-16). The Rockets have trailed entering the fourth quarter in each of the past four games, but won three of those games. During the regular season, Houston was 5-19 when tied or trailing through three quarters of play.
Why Bet On San Antonio?
The No. 2 seed Spurs advanced out of the first round with a 4-2 win over the No. 7 seed Memphis Grizzlies. The first round series victory marked the 20 th for the Silver and Black since 1984, which ranks as second-most in league history behind only the Los Angeles Lakers who have produced 22 first round series wins.
The Spurs scored 116.8 points per 100 possessions in the first round, 12.3 more than Memphis (the league’s No. 7 defense) allowed in the regular season. The Spurs’ was the biggest OffRtg increase and Memphis’ was the biggest DefRtg increase from the regular season to the first round.
San Antonio is one of two teams with multiple wins after trailing by 10 or more points in the first round. Trailed by 10-plus in Games 1, 3, 4 and 6 against Memphis, coming back to win Games 1 and 6. The Rockets (2-1) are the only other team with multiple wins after trailing by double-digits in the playoffs.
Leonard ranked third in effective field goal percentage (61.5 percent) and led the first round in true shooting percentage (71.5 percent) among players who took at least 50 shots from the field. He also shot 59-for- 61 (97 percent) from the free throw line, the best mark among players with at least 20 attempts.
In winning three of four regular-season meetings vs. Houston, the teams were separated by a total of 8 points in the Spurs favor across the four games. Three of the four meetings were decided by two points. The Spurs averaged 104.8 ppg on 46.2% shooting while Rockets averaged 102.8 ppg on 42.4% FGs. San Antonio had 3 more FGM on 17 fewer FGA. Houston outshot S.A. 47.4% to 39.3% in its win on 11/9 but was outshot 48.5% to 40.9% in the 3 losses.
This marks the fourth time Houston and San Antonio have met in the playoffs. The Rockets are 3-0 in those series so far: 1980, Won 2-1 in First Round, 1981, Won 4-3 in Conference Semifinals, 1995, Won 4- 2 in Conference Finals. San Antonio is currently second in the league in postseason three-point shooting percentage (.410). They are also third in opponent’s points per game (96.3).
Houston at San Antonio NBA Playoffs Pick: San Antonio Spurs
The Silver and Black have won their postseason opener in five of the last six seasons. The Spurs also have a 78.0 playoff win percentage at home in the same time span (32-9).