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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets

After a loss on Saturday, the Spurs will have a chance to get revenge on the Rockets on Sunday.

NBA: Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs Aaron Meullion-USA TODAY Sports

After Saturday’s loss, the Spurs will face the Rockets once again on what will be the second game of a back-to-back for both squads. It will also be the last matchup between the two traditional rivals that this time around find themselves more concerned about lottery odds and development than wins.

Houston got an edge in transition on the first game of the mini-series and that was enough to get them one of their few wins of the season. The Rockets had a balanced offense that featured eight players in double digits in scoring while the shorthanded Spurs really suffered from a lack of depth, as the visitors’ second unit scored 56 points to San Antonio’s 31. If the rotation players that missed Saturday’s bout return on Sunday, however, things could change, as the Silver and Black should have more shooting and firepower. The Spurs are simply a different team when Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson suit up.

As mentioned, wins don’t really matter at this point of the season for either squad, but the matchup is still intriguing because it features two of the best young cores in the league and should be a fun, high-octane affair.

San Antonio Spurs (16-48) at Houston Rockets (14-49)

March 5, 2023 | 6:00 PM CT

Watch: BSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries (subject to change): Khem Birch (Knee) — Out, Doug McDermott (Thumb) — Out, Keldon Johnson (Foot) — Doubtful, Malaki Branham (Back) — Questionable.

Rockets Injuries (subject to change): Jae’Sean Tate (Ankle) — Out.

What to watch for:

Devonte’ Graham finding consistency? Graham is the typical bench gunner who runs hot and cold, but in the last two games he’s made 12 of the 22 three-pointers he’s attempted, so he might be finding his rhythm. His output on offense is especially important when one of the regular high-usage players is out, but even if the Spurs get Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell back after the two missed the previous matchup, they’ll still desperately need some bench scoring. If Graham can continue to make outside shots for a team that doesn’t have a lot of snipers, he could be valuable not only against the Rockets but also going forward.

Losing might be the smart thing, but the Spurs will still try to win. The Spurs currently have the third-worst record in the league behind the Rockets and Pistons. The only team that could realistically fall down the standings and push San Antonio out of having the best odds at the top pick is Charlotte, but getting a loss against an opponent that is also tanking could be considered the right idea. It’s unlikely the coaching staff and the players see it that way, though. Holding guys out to be careful about their health is one thing, but actually trying to lose is not something that could be expected from people as competitive as the ones who make it to an NBA roster. Expect the Spurs to come out swinging and try to avenge the loss from the day before.

For a Rockets perspective, visit The Dream Shake.

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