Western Conference Semi-Finals Preview
Spurs vs. Rockets
The San Antonio Spurs survived a tough Memphis team in order to advance out of the first round and will now host the Houston Rockets in Game one of a best of 7 in San Antonio.
The Rockets advanced after defeating Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round.
Point guard – Tony Parker vs. Patrick Beverly
Parker is still able to get to the rim but is not the finisher around the rim he once was. A championship point guard, he knows what it takes to win playoff games. Beverly is the starter at point guard in name only as he spends most of his time on offense playing off the ball. Defensively he is an elite defender who will drive the Spurs guard’s crazy.
Advantage – Even
Shooting Guard- Danny Green vs. James Harden
Harden had the best season of his career and essentially functions as the point guard on offense. He is a willing passer who excels in virtually every area on the offensive end. He will likely draw Kawhi Leonard on the defensive end which will be fascinating to watch. Green is a typical “3 and D” player who has regressed somewhat this season. He is capable of hitting three pointers at a rapid rate and someone the defense needs to account for.
Advantage – Rockets
Small Forward- Kawhi Leonard vs Trevor Ariza
Leonard like Harden is a legitimate MVP candidate. He continued to be the leagues premier all around defensive player and he improved his overall offensive game to the point where he has proven to be able to create his own shot and score consistently. Ariza is the ideal player to attempt to guard Leonard with his strength and length. He will attempt to makes things difficult for Leonard. He is also a threat from the three-point line.
Advantage – Spurs
Power Forward- Lamarcus Aldridge vs. Ryan Anderson
Anderson presents the biggest matchup concern for the Spurs. He is fantastic three-point shooter and will force the Spurs big men to come out and defend him on the perimeter. He is a capable defender and will have to battle with the Spurs who feed the post often.
Aldridge is still an All-Star level player but is inconsistent. He is capable of creating his own shot but often loses touches to Leonard.
Advantage – Spurs
Center- David Lee vs. Clint Capella
Lee has been the starter but the Spurs use multiple people at the position. Lee is a crafty veteran who is a proven scorer but not known for his defense. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Spurs play a smaller/quicker lineup with Leonard moving to PF and Aldridge to Center. Capella is a perfect fit for the Rockets as he excels in pick and roll and is great catching the lob to the basket.
Advantage – Rockets
Both benches are excellent. The Rockets use a 3 man bench with super scorers Lou Williams and Eric Gordon and veteran big man Nene. The Spurs are deep and the rotation will depend on what matchup Popovich prefers. Veterans Pau Gasol and Manu Ginobili are certain to see time as is backup point guard Patty Mills
In many ways this is a matchup of the modern NBA vs. Old School. The Spurs are a traditional team who plays inside/out while the Rockets rely heavily on the three point shot and rarely play out of the post. The Spurs will need to perform better than they did on the first round. If Memphis had another scorer, they likely would have won the series. The Rockets will go as far as Harden can take them which will be to the Western Conference Finals
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