The Houston Rockets pulled out a Game 5 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday night, and are advancing to the Semi Finals. Who’s the ideal second round opponents for this Rockets squad?
The Memphis Grizzlies
have fight, and a lot of it. After pushing the Spurs to Game 6, they’ve proven their potential for further competition. A defensive focused team, they may cause trouble for the Rockets three-point heavy offense.
Marc Gasol is playing good ball against the Spurs, winning his positional match up against David Lee, and his brother Pau. Through five games in the series, Gasol is averaging (19.6) points, and (6.8) rebounds a game. Point guard Mike Conley is also playing well, and will pose a defensive threat for James Harden.
Should this be a healthy Grizzlies team, with Chandler Parsons contributing three-point shots and reliable defense from Tony Allen, I would actually look forward a Houston match up. However, this is not the case, and I foresee a series sweep is awaiting them in the Semi Finals.
The San Antonio Spurs
are, well….the Spurs. Kawhi has had an incredible season, and will have most voters wavering between DPOY and MVP. When’s the last time a player was eligible for both? Tony Parker and Manu have both shown signs of turning back the clock, and could prove reliable in a series with Houston.
Leonard is on a tear, and even posted a (43) – point performance in Game 4. Through six games of this series, Kawhi is averaging (31.6) points while shooting (58%) from the field! One more fun stat, in the series with the Grizzlies he has attempted (48) free throws….and only missed one. In addition to their tentative MVP/DPOY, Patty Mills is a dependable scorer and scored (5) three-pointers in a winning effort Game 6.
This Spurs team isn’t really about stars and huge scorers, but more so about the system and it’s role players. Guys like Pau Gasol, Danny Green, and Jonathon Simmons are going to make the Semi Finals a tough one for Houston.
Should record stand for anything, Rockets are (1-3) against San Antonio this season, and (2-2) with Memphis.
The Rockets would be better off facing a worn out Memphis team, and are very capable of sweeping them. Should they end up facing the Spurs, they will have to cover basics and late game plays to avoid the fundamental monster that is Popovich.
All stats and information provided by ESPN and NBA.com. Featured image provided by San Antonio Express via Google Images.