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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs Houston Rockets

The Spurs take on one of the youngest teams in the league as they host the Houston Rockets.

Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

San Antonio Spurs vs Houston Rockets

AT&T Center
December 7, 2012, 7:30 PM Spurs Time

The San Antonio Spurs wrap up a nearly week-long home stand by hosting their divisional rivals the Houston Rockets.

Before the 2012-13 season began, the Rockets were slated to be one of the worse teams in the league, as they jettisoned proven veteran talent in Luis Scola (amnestied, picked up by Phoenix), Goran Dragic (signed by Phoenix), Kyle Lowry (traded to Toronto for a conditional draft pick, more on that later), Courtney Lee (signed-and-traded to Boston), Marcus Camby (signed-and-traded to New York), Samuel Dalembert (traded to Milwaukee in what was effectively a switching draft picks move). This was in addition to signing Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik to 3 year 25 million deals each, structured in such a manner that their respective teams (New York and Chicago) would be hard-pressed to match their offer. For a while, it looked like Kevin Martin would be the only remaining veteran on the Rockets roster, but Sam Presti and Daryl Morey reached an agreement on a last minute deal that sent reigning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden, along with Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, and Lazar Hayward to Houston for Martin, Jeremy Lamb (12th pick in the draft, acquired from Milwaukee), and the Raptors' conditional first round pick (that the Raptors surrender if it falls out of the top 3 in the lottery and remains a lottery pick. The Rockets then extended Harden, something the Thunder were not likely to do as it was why they traded Harden in the first place.

The Rockets thus have a largely unstable roster, third youngest in the league, and only one guy (Chandler Parsons) of their starting five was a starter in a previous season. They unsurprisingly play at a fast pace (1st in the league), score a lot of points (3rd in team PPG, 8th in offensive rating), and aren't much to look at on defense (29th in team points allowed per game, 20th in defensive rating). Their offense is predicated on Parsons and Patterson (who has become a decent stretch 4, hitting 36.4% on his 3s this season after hitting none in his past two seasons) spacing the floor for James Harden, and to a lesser extent Jeremy Lin, to attack. Omer Asik is occasionally a finisher, yet his offensive value lies in offensive rebounding. Thus, while they shoot the ball pretty well (11th in eFG%), get a good amount of second chances (9th in ORB%), and get to the line a lot (7th in FT/FGA), their biggest weakness remains taking care of the ball (21st in TOV%). This unpredictable, surprising roster has climbed to 9-8 and taken third place in the Southwest Division.

On the other hand, the Spurs chose to effectively stand pat over the offseason, where the biggest news was signing Tim Duncan to a home discount contract and bringing over yet another Frenchman in Nando de Colo. Even after a brief dalliance with Eddy Curry in training camp, the Spurs still brought back James Anderson after injuries to Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson. The Spurs are looking wise in this decision as they sit at a division-leading 15 wins, though Memphis edges them in W/L%, and are doing well against their own division, with a 99-95 win in New Orleans and a 99-95 overtime win over Memphis. The Spurs are also 26th in team youth, and this battle of exuberant youth and tempered experience will be intriguing indeed. Will Tim Duncan continue his domination of the league's best big men and stifle Asik on the boards. Will Tony Parker give Lin fits on the defensive end? Can Manu Ginobili win the battle of lefty Eurosteppers against Harden? Stay tuned.

Also, have PtR in Gizoogle form.


PG: Tony Parker
SG: Gary Neal
SF: Boris Diaw
PF: Tim Duncan
C: DeJuan Blair

Key Bench Players
Manu Ginobili
Tiago Splitter
Matt Bonner

Head Coach
Gregg Popovich


PG: Jeremy Lin
SG: James Harden
SF: Chandler Parsons
PF: Patrick Patterson
C: Omer Asik

Key Bench Players
Carlos Delfino
Marcus Morris
Toney Douglas

Head Coach

Kevin McHale

Rockets perspective can be found here: The Dream Shake

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Game Prediction: The Spurs continue their momentum and briefly exorcise demons of last season's WCF and hand the Rockets an 8 point beating. Vegas says Spurs by 7.5

Game Previewers Prediction Records & how many points off per prediction

Joe deLarios 5-0 (-1, 3, 5, 0, 1)

Wes Thorne 5-1* (-1, 0, 23, 2, -8*,1) *@MIA

Racm 1-3 (-25, -14, -5, 15)

Stijl 1-1 (-12, 11)

Fred 1-0 (3)

CapHill 1-0 (13)

As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.