Rockets or Spurs: Who Would Have the Best Chance Against the Warriors?
The Rockets and Spurs are in a “chess match” of a series. One team will win, but which team poses the biggest threat to the Warriors?
The NBA Playoffs are in full tilt, and the action is as intense as any of us could have expected. Although there are those match-ups that are just as scintillating as they were advertised to be, such as the Rockets/Spurs and the Celtics/Wizards series’, there are also those that are somewhat disappointing. Although it is still very early in the series, this could already be the case for the Warriors after an easy victory in Game 1 against the Jazz. As we look ahead a bit to the finals, and assuming that the Golden State Warriors go on to finish off the Jazz, which team between the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs has the best chance at beating them? The answer will probably shock you.
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The San Antonio Spurs experienced a bit of “culture shock,” if you will, entering game 1 against the Houston Rockets. The “rule” used to be that a “jump shooting team could not win in the playoffs”, until a jump shooting team won it all. Well the Rockets definitely got that memo as well, as they blitzed the Spurs, shooting 22–50 from the three point stripe. The trend overall is actually seeing a seismic shift as well, as pointed out by Ric Bucher of Mad Dog Sports’ “West Coast Live”, the team that shoots the best from downtown usually wins the game in today’s NBA.
Along with the alarming amount of three’s that the Houston Rockets were taking and making, they also play at a breakneck pace. That simply wears you down even if you can somehow go basket for basket with them. This was something that the Spurs definitely took note of as they purposefully played at a slower pace in game 2 of the series. Indications of this were several times that Kawhi Leonard had “numbers” on a break, but pulled the ball up and backed out in order to maximize the time taken off the clock. This also helped to manipulate the “pace and flow” of the game, which was crucial because it not only allowed them to play “Spurs Basketball”, but it allowed them to avoid playing “Rockets basketball” which would have worn them out.
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That brings up an interesting observation, that it is hard to beat someone at their own game, especially if they do or play it better than you do. This was the case in Game 1 of this series for the Spurs, and was the case for the Rockets in Game 2. Game 1 was fast and furious, Rockets ball, while Game 2 was calculated and precise, Spurs Ball. When thinking about who poses the largest potential threat to the Golden State Warriors, the style of play is a very important factor to consider, and the fact is that they play a very similar style as the Rockets. The key differences, which are negatives for the Rockets, are that the Warriors have four guys whom their offense can be run through, as opposed to one in Harden. On top of that, the Warriors are actually a darn good defensive team.
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With all the prior in mind, the team that would pose the biggest threat to the Warriors in the West is none other than the San Antonio Spurs. Even without Tony Parker, they stand the best chance of upsetting what they have going on in Oakland. The Houston Rockets wouldn’t stand a chance in a seven game series because they want to play in a way that caters to what the Warriors do best, “Run-N-Gun”. The Spurs on the other hand would likely want to slow the ball down, and make the Warriors work hard for every bucket they get, somewhat alleviating their ability to go on a damning spurt at any time.
None of the above really matters unless the Spurs can find a way to pull out three more games in their series against Houston, but if they don’t, then the Western Conference Finals don’t really matter. If it is Houston vs. Golden State in the Western Conference Final, the series probably won’t go more than five games.