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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets

The Spurs return home in search of reinforcements as they welcome the Houston Rockets to town

NBA: Preseason-Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The rebuild is going about how one would expect for the Houston Rockets in the wake of last season’s James Harden fallout. The Rockets were able to draft 19-year old Jalen Green out of the G League in the offseason with the 2nd overall pick, but Green still has a long way to go as far as learning the NBA game is concerned. He doesn’t have much help in the veteran department either, as the rest of the team is a bit of a who’s who of young players. Houston’s roster currently features 11 players with less than 3 years of NBA experience, including 6 rookies. They still have Christian Wood

The Spurs seemed to be turning a corner before essentially getting a big bag of COVID for the holidays. San Antonio comes into tonight with possibly 6 players out for health and safety protocols, a figure that includes 3 starters. Add Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker to that list and that brings the total up to 8 Spurs that have missed time in the last 2 weeks due to COVID-19. Such line-up chaos does a big part in explaining the cause for the collapse the last two weeks that’s dropped them to 10 games behind .500.

Good thing for them, though, they may be getting some reinforcements tonight. The revamped health protocols that sets the isolation period for players who test positive but exhibit no symptoms to 6 days rather than 10 could see the return of 4 players tonight, including 2 starters (Derrick White and Keldon Johnson) and a 3rd who has recently seen time as a starter (Devin Vassell).

San Antonio Spurs (15-24) vs. Houston Rockets (11-31)

January 12, 2022 | 7:30 PM CT

Watch: Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Zach Collins (Out — Ankle), Doug McDermott (Out — COVID-19 Protocols), Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Tre Jones (Out — COVID-19 Protocols)

Rockets Injuries: Trevelin Queen (day to day), Eric Gordon (groin - day to day), Armoni Brooks (Out - Covid-19 protocols), Alperen Sengun (ankle - out)

What to watch for

  • The biggest thing to watch for is who ends up suiting up for the Spurs tonight. There is a chance that Keldon Johnson, Derrick White, and Devin Vassell could all return from their COVID-19 quarantines tonight, as it would fall 6 days from their initial placement on the list (they all were placed on the list back on January 6th). It is unclear which, if any, players that are out for COVID are symptomatic, but we’ll see as the day goes on if they’re able to get back on the hardwood tonight.
  • Christian Wood is undoubtedly Houston’s best player as their rebuild gets underway. A 6’10 forward, Wood is averaging a double-double this season (17/10) and is a very willing 3-point shooter, averaging nearly 5 attempts from beyond the arc per game. Luckily for the Spurs, Jakob Poeltl is as versatile a defender as any big man could be.
  • Lonnie Walker IV followed up a season-high 25 points in the loss to the Nets with a 15 point, 5/19 stinker at the Garden the next day. Still, with so many guys out of the line-up at least Walker showed a willingness to look for his shot that he’s lacked at times throughout his career. Walker took 39 shots over the course of the recent back to back and if there continues to be guys missing from the line-up, its safe to expect a similar effort.

For the Rockets fan’s perspective, please visit The Dream Shake

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