Following a double-OT win in Oakland on December 1st, the Houston Rockets have torn through every opponent they’ve faced over the last three weeks, reeling off ten wins in a row and owning the second-best net rating in the league over that time (somehow, Toronto is still tops with +18.4 points per 100 possessions) while averaging an NBA-best 119.9 points per game.
San Antonio’s played Houston twice already this season, with each side stealing a narrow victory on the road. The scouting report remains roughly the same, although the Rox have Patrick Beverley back and will reportedly be without Clint Capela for an extended period of time.
That’ll likely mean Nene stepping into the starting lineup and more minutes for Montrezl Harrell, who’s been pretty good this year. This is a fairly deep Rockets team, but it looks like they’ll be really missing Donatas Motiejunas over the next month and a half.
MVP candidate (front-runner?) James Harden triple-doubled in both of his meetings with the Spurs, and he figures to get his numbers again tonight. The trick is making sure he doesn’t get as much help from his perimeter-bound teammates. It’s not an easy trick, mind you, but a trick nonetheless.
There’s a compelling debate about who the best team in Texas is right now, and this game could have playoff tie-breaker implications down the line. If you can cope with the anxiety of being under a perpetual hail of three-pointers, this should be another fun matchup to watch.
San Antonio Spurs (22-5) at Houston Rockets (21-7)
Dec. 20, 2016 | 7:00 CST
Watch: FSSW I NBA TV Listen: 1200 AM WOAI
Spurs injuries: None!
Rockets injuries: Clint Capela (leg)
The Rockets took an NBA-record 61 threes against the Pelicans last Friday. They made 24 of them, also an NBA record. Over their ten-game winning streak, they’ve made 17 per contest (easily best in the league over that stretch), with guys like Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon bombing away from well beyond the three-point line.
Three-point defense II
The Spurs are top 8 in the league in opponent three-point percentage, three-point attempts and three-pointers made. They should fare better than most teams in stopping Houston, but they’ve also been a bit fortunate in their two recent matchups. The Rockets shot just 10-of-30 and 15-of-47, respectively, good for a 32.5% clip.
The beginning of a four-games-in-six-nights stretch
I’m not sure how this will play into players resting, but it’s worth noting that the Spurs have a pretty rough slate of games ahead of them, leading up to a Christmas Day home meeting with the Bulls. From Houston, they’ll head to the West Coast for a back-to-back against the Clips (now, minus Blake Griffin) and Blazers before returning to SA.
Vegas line: Rockets by 1.
Game prediction: Rockets by 6.
For the Rockets fans' perspective, visit The Dream Shake.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher.
PtR's Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR's Twitter feed.