Possible Playoff Preview: Rockets vs. Spurs

The Houston Rockets may see the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs this season.
The Houston Rockets are getting ready to enter the 2013 NBA playoffs, but their playoff position is still a toss up. They are currently sitting on the seventh seed, but can easily move up to the sixth seed over the Golden State Warriors (one game behind) and the eighth seed where the three teams (Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers, and Dallas Mavericks) are currently still fighting to lock in their spot for the playoffs.

With the Rockets being able to move positions along with the top four seeds, the team has many possibilities in opponents in the first round. All the teams present a different obstacle for the Houston Rockets that will force them to adjust their play during a seven game series. One of the teams we'll focus on that the Rockets might see this postseason is the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs probably present the biggest overall matchup problem against the Houston Rockets. The Spurs have always been able to play two styles of play. San Antonio is running more on offense, but they can easily slow the tempo down and dump the ball down to Tim Duncan. The Spurs' offensive versatility will present a problem to the lowly defensive Rockets (102.7ppg allowed), but San Antonio's defense will present the biggest problems for the Rockets. The Spurs have long and quick guards/forwards along with big men who can move well to protect the paint. The one advantage Houston has had this series is James Harden's isolation game and the team's pick and roll attack. The Spurs' lone weakness on defense (personnel wise) is the pick and roll defense because San Antonio's big men have to make a quick second decision on how they're going to defend it. Tim Duncan usually stays back and forces the opponent to shoot the ball or try to score over him. This is one of the few areas where the Rockets have the edge with Harden handling the ball. The shooters such as Chandler Parsons and Carlos Delfino open up the floor where another Spurs player won't help Duncan out by cheating on the roller during the pick and roll.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Rockets will have to use their quickness to beat the Spurs if they were to match up. San Antonio has seen that Tony Parker and Tim Duncan can carry the group, but they have to force new faces to try to carry the teams during the tough stretches of games. Tiago Splitter is a player who is playing for a new contract and may be tempted to try to do more than he can on the offensive end over Omar Asik and other Houston big men. Danny Green was a Spur last season who had trouble on both ends of the floor last season during the Western Conference Finals and has struggled throughout the latter part of the season when he's been relied on to contribute as a top option over being a spot up shooter. This could be another weakness the Rockets can exploit while focusing their defense on another player.

The Spurs may have the overall edge over the Rockets, but Houston does have a chance for an upset against this team if they play smart on both ends of the floor. While the Spurs may be a top defensive team, they do have holes in their defense to squeak out one victory or more.

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