On Friday, the San Antonio Spurs will visit the Houston Rockets for their fourth and final matchup of the season. Houston has won two of the three matchups.
The Spurs are currently red-hot, winning nine of their last 10 games. Head coach Gregg Popovich recently marked a career milestone in San Antonio with 22-straight seasons with a winning record.
Houston’s James Harden is also having a historic season while leading the Rockets, and could easily claim a back-to-back MVP award.
Friday’s matchup between the two Western Conference rivals could end up being a preview for the semi-finals.
San Antonio surges
Behind DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge’s 21 points per game each, the Spurs are peaking at the perfect time. San Antonio will visit the Rockets with only a handful of games left in the season, while playing their best basketball.
Behind coach Popovich’s brand of basketball, San Antonio is currently at the sixth seed in the West, a half-game behind Utah.
While they don’t have the star power of other teams in the West, such as Houston, San Antonio’s team basketball as well as leadership gives them a fighting chance at anybody come playoff time.
Rockets continue success
Houston has played great basketball all year. At third in the West behind Golden State and Denver, the Rockets are ready to play for a conference title again, as they come up short last season.
James Harden’s season has been better than his last. Improving by five points per game, Harden is now averaging 35.8 points, 6.4 assists and 7.7 rebounds. It seems to be a two-way race between him and Giannis Antetokounmpo for the MVP award.
Aided by Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and Chris Paul, Houston is in prime position for the playoffs. The Rockets, behind Harden, can outplay any team in the league, and even took Golden State to seven games last year without Chris Paul.
San Antonio and Houston could potentially see each other in the second round if the Spurs stay at the sixth seed. Houston currently has Portland behind them by a half-game. Two of their games this year have been decided by less than 10 points, so a playoff series between the two could make for some great basketball.
Aldridge vs. Capela will be a key matchup in Friday’s game. Capela, an anchor of Houston’s defense, will face a challenge in Aldridge, who is having another strong year. If Capela can lock him down early, more pressure will be put on Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan to outscore Harden & Co.
The Spurs momentum will come to a halt on the road, but in a very close game.
Rockets get the win at home: 117-114
Featured image credited to San Antonio Express-News.