Western Conference Semis Game 2 Recap: Spurs vs. Rockets
Let me just have a moment. Just to enjoy the beauty in the world. The beauty of responding to a blowout with one of your own is a feeling unmatched. It’s like watching someone who challenged you to a race in traffic with a muscle car get pulled over for speeding. Schadenfreude at its finest.
But before I really begin, I need to pause for a moment for the injured Tony Parker. That injury is the end of his season for now and it remains to be seen just how damaging it is for him. Godspeed on that recovery, Tony.
As for the game itself, it was a lot of what I love about the Spurs. We played fast, made quick decisions, knocked down our shots, and stopped a lot of the easy shots Houston was getting.
Kawhi led the way with a 34-8-7 performance, along with doing the best job of hunting James Harden all game to make his life miserable. Harden did look to be limited by more than just Kawhi’s rangy defense, but you can’t knock the Klaw for guarding the guy in front of him and not waiting for his best version to make an appearance. Danny Green continued his onslaught from the previous game making shots early and often from all ranges. Pau Gasol leveraged his standing reach well with his lack of mobility on defense while also providing some offensive boost for us after getting his starting job back. And we’ll definitely miss Tony, who looked like he’d really turned the clock back to 2013 and made everything he looked at.
On the Rockets end, they actually played very well for much of the game. We still have a Ryan Anderson problem, and his aggressive mean regression for his 3pt% this playoffs is a lot to handle. Eric Gordon reminded us why he was on track to being a premier scorer in his early years, and Clint Capela continued to be a force on both ends. Harden is the most obvious candidate for having a rough game, but I also wanted to give credit to our guys for limiting PatBev, Ariza, and Lou Williams. It was no easy feat and their contributions is what made the game such a blowout last time.
Anyway, here’s what I’m looking at for Game 3:
It’s been a long time coming, but Kawhi has gotten the handle and in-between game to be our primary ballhandler for more possessions than not. With Tony out, we’ll likely see bigger lineups to try and put longer players on the Rockets guards on defense, and Kawhi being able to create will likely be the focal point to making that all work.
Whatever was eating Harden this game shouldn’t last, and I expect to see the MVP candidate back in top form on his home court. The Spurs can still win the game when Harden is good, but I don’t like our chances if he comes out great. On the same tip, San Antonio seems to have made the right tweaks to defending him to prevent a lot of those easy 3 point fouls. Let’s see if it sticks.
Patty Mills will likely see most of Tony’s minutes with him out, along with maybe Dejounte Murray or Jonathan Simmons. The biggest key for our backcourt guys, including Manu and Danny Green is to just continue doing what we did in Game 2. Our bigs have a post presence so if Danny can attack a closeout, just finish. Patty’s offensive arsenal is increasing and he just needs to be decisive when he attacks. Manu may need to find that 3pt stroke that has seem to left him with age, but it may be enough for him to just be the passer we know. If Juice or Murray gets bigger minutes we’ll just need them to play within themselves and attack the defense when an opening arises. As well as put in an effort on defense and limiting offensive boards if necessary.
All in all, it looks like we have a series on our hands and it looks to be a photo finish.