San Antonio Spurs @ Houston RocketsToyota Center, Houston, Texas
April 14, 2014, 7:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW/NBATV - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
So the San Antonio Spurs have clinched home court throughout the playoffs. The Spurs, or some parts of them, will play two more games. The first will be in Houston to play the Rockets, the second will be a beat down against the Lakers. Tonight's game will be the more interesting of the two, but I doubt it will be more than a mere formality. I imagine Pop will sit 4 or 5 guys and send the rest of the team out to try their best to upset the Rockets. Houston is still fighting for playoff positioning and will likely be taking this game seriously. I doubt that the bench for San Antonio can keep pace with a motivated Rockets team.
One thing that I can possibly see happening is Pop running out all the big dogs just to get that elusive W against the Spurs' pesky I-10 rival. He might say that too much time off is a bad thing....I doubt it, but I have a hard time predicting what Pop will do. My best guess is that Houston will outscore a Spurs team that is sitting most of its main rotation players.
So, with that long and eloquent preview out of the way, I want to waste some time talking about the playoffs and things I hope will happen, but probably won't.
I am very happy to see the Mavericks sitting in the 7th seed (as of now). The Mavs are 2-1 against the Thunder this year, and while that's not amazing, I think Dallas gives the Thunder some match-up problems. Dirk is a match-up problem for everybody, but OKC really doesn't have anybody but Durant to guard him, and if KD is having to play defense his offense will suffer. At least that's what I'll be hoping for. Dallas can also throw several guys at both Durant and Westbrook including Marion and Carter. I also think that Brandon Wright could be an interesting match up against Ibaka (I can't believe I just typed that.) I could see Dallas forcing a long series. Sadly, I don't think the Mavs will overcome the Thunder in the end and we'll likely see OKC advance.
If Brooklyn ends up playing the Heat at any point in the Eastern half of the playoff bracket they could spell trouble for Miami. Not only are the Nets undefeated against Miami, but they are also one of the hottest teams in the East. I mean they're something like 34-15 since 2014 began, after starting 10-21. That's like a solid Western Conference team right there. The Nets do seem to have Miami's number, but all of their games have been really close. I'm not sure you can count on the Heat losing four close games to a very old Nets team come playoff time, but one can hope. After writing all of this I just checked the standings and the stupid Pacers might actually end up with the #1 seed, making their trip back to the Eastern Conference Finals much more difficult. If Frank Vogel has any brains he will sit his starters for all remaining regular season games...seriously.
I fully expect the Clippers to have all sorts of trouble with Golden State, assuming the Warriors hang on to the 6th seed. The Clippers are fools gold in my humble opinion. They actually remind me of all those Steve Nash Suns teams. They've got a very nice point guard and a big man who can score a lot, but is limited defensively despite making improvements over the season. They can score in bunches but are going to have a hard time slowing you down. Cue the Warriors, who are exactly the same, well, except with a lot less publicity and they are full of guys with health issues. I'm not sure the Warriors are healthy enough to beat LA, but I do expect a 6-7 game series out of that one. The winner of which will get crushed by OKC.
Assuming the Spurs end up playing the Grizzlies, which I hope happens. They should be able to squeak by Memphis and would end up playing either Houston or Portland. Neither is a particularly easy match-up for our Spurs, but the good news is that both teams will have played, what will surely be, a long drawn out series. Also the winner, regardless of which team it is, will be further in the playoffs than they have been since David Robinson was playing....you might need to fact check me on that, but I'm pretty sure I'm right. Either way San Antonio will have to use their experience and veteran savvy to over come the Blazers or Rockets....or San Antonio could just out coach them. It should be a fun couple of months of basketball coming up.
In the meantime we have tonight's game, so here is my best guess at tonight's lineup:
Key Bench Players
Key Bench Players
The perspective of Rocket fans can be found here: The Dream Shake
Game Prediction: Houston by 9 just because Patty Mills keeps it close.
Line in Vegas: Rockets by 4 1/2
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.
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