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Game Preview: Spurs vs. Rockets

Texas meets Texas

NBA: Preseason-Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets are coming into the November 10th game against the Spurs having won their last two of three while successfully luring last season’s defensive assistant out of retirement and back into the ‘run it back’ fold.

November 10th, 2018 | 7:30 CT

Watch: NBATV/KENS | Listen: WOAI

Spurs (6-4) vs. Rockets (4-6)

To the naked eye, the Rockets have indeed been playing better than their lackluster start, but without the buzzsaw-like efficiency of last season. As they work on figuring out their new line-up — and this is just based on watching their games against the Bulls, the Pacers, and the Thunder — they seem to be focused on feeding Clint Capella in the post with bounce passes — who then either posts up or tries to cut to the basket, regardless of whether there is an opening — with inconsistent results.

The Spurs are coming into the game in an intriguing rhythm: they’re not veering way off course, but they’re not quite locked in yet either. You can see the strange duality in their defeat of the Pelicans and in their loss at the hands of the Orlando Magic. It’s somewhat like a battleship changing direction at sea as sailors race around the deck to station their only working battery gun towards the right target.

Prediction-wise, it seems that the Rockets could be on the rebound, but they have struggled enough early that there are plenty of indications that this game could be an even match. Consider: the Rockets currently allow more points per game than the Spurs — but just barely (110 to 109); teams who play the Rockets shoot a slightly higher field goal percentage than the Spurs (.477 to .470); and the two teams are about the same at creating turnovers (14.3 to 13.9 by the Spurs.) These numbers were compiled before Thursday night’s against the Thunder, so they’re subject to change.

The combination of Mills’s pace and the midrange game of Aldridge and DeRozan could be a source of strength against a team that loves to shoot three-point shots and who haven’t quite gelled on defense so far. And it’s not like Capella is going to have the kind of performance Hassan Whiteside had in Miami. Indeed, if the opening minutes of the OKC/Rockets game are any indication — where OKC got 6 unanswered points getting a mismatch between Stephen Adams and Harden in a post-up — then feeding Aldridge and/or Gasol as they switch onto Harden might be an interesting offensive strategy. Harden is still great, but — if the beginning of the season has been any indication — there are ways for the Spurs to eke out a win.

Vegas odds: Houston by 1.

Game Prediction: Spurs by 17.

For the Rocket fans’ perspective, visit The Dream Shake.

PtR’s Gamethread will be up this afternoon for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.