When the San Antonio Spurs are playing one of the best teams in the Western Conference, fans have grown accustomed to seeing them win.
This year, not so much.
The defending Western Conference Champions are just 3-8 this season against the top six teams (other than themselves) in their conference. On Tuesday, they travel to Houston to face the fifth place Rockets.
This will be the third meeting of the season between the two teams, and so far the Rockets have taken both games, winning in San Antonio in November and at home on Christmas Day. The Rockets, however, are looking to end a two-game losing streak. They haven’t lost three straight all year. The Spurs are also looking to avoid a first. They haven’t lost back-to-back games all year, but they are coming off a 113-101 loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday and have lost three of their last five.
This will be a tough game for the Spurs to win without Tiago Splitter, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard, who are all injured. Green and Leonard are two of their best defenders and they rank first and second on the team in steals. They average a combined three steals per game against the Rockets this season. This is a huge loss because the Rockets rank third to last in the league in turnovers, averaging 16.1 per game.
James Harden will need to get back on track for the Rockets, as he is averaging 13 points on 33 percent shooting during the past two games. On the bright side, Harden has played outstanding against the Spurs this season, averaging 29.5 points on 62.8 percent shooting. As a team, the Rockets have scored 112 and 111 points against the Spurs on 48 percent shooting from the field and 46 percent from beyond the arc. The Spurs will need to find a way to slow down one of the NBA’s most dynamic offenses, something they haven’t been able to do so far.
The Pick: The Rockets have played very well against the Spurs so far this year. On top of being great offensively, they have also out rebounded their opponent by an average of 52 to 39.5. Especially with Splitter out, I don’t expect that to change, and the fact that Dwight Howard grabbed 20 on his own in the last meeting doesn’t hurt either. The Spurs will drop two straight for the first time this year Tuesday night, Rockets win 110-95.
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
When: 8:00 p.m. ET