The Rockets picked apart the second-seeded Spurs, 125-104, to tie their Western Conference semifinals series at two apiece. The supporting cast is what has won them the first game in convincing fashion, but were relegated to the spectators position. Harden made just 3-of-17 shots against San Antonio in Game 2, and Gordon's poor shooting performance in Game 3 was one of the reasons Houston dropped a precious home game.
Cleveland have not lost a game in the first two rounds of the two most recent postseasons, becoming the first team in National Basketball Association history to start 8-0 in back-to-back playoffs.
With that pace and space, the shots fell - the Rockets even shot 62 percent on the shots contested by the Spurs (according to NBA.com).
Houston's MVP candidate still averaged 33.2 points against the Thunder in the five-game series.
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Rockets guard Eric Gordon said the players know the score. The Spurs have built and maintained an identity over the years and he's trying to do the same with the Rockets. They have started big with Aldridge and Gasol and have shown the ability to go small against Houston, which is not something they normally do, nor is it something Popovich has ever been comfortable doing. The Rockets will bounce back, because they have to. Add in the way they use him defensively, and Leonard is going to be asked to be a poor man's LeBron for the remainder of this postseason. Overall, Houston is 46-44 ATS. The Rockets went 45-44-1 against the projected line, and 23-22 at home.
What proved crucial for San Antonio was that while Harden scored at will in the second half, so too did the Spurs.
Now that Parker will miss the rest of the post-season with a leg injury, the Spurs will be tested like they rarely have been before. Of those seven, the Spurs have covered six times.
Houston's offense bounced back in a big way after the team had been held to below 100 points in each of the last two games after failing to reach the mark only five times in the regular season. We've still got a lot of playing to do.
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The Spurs' dynamic seems to change drastically when he gets rolling early, forcing Houston to shift some of its focus away from Leonard, who continues to be mobbed by multiple defenders. The spread is fluctuating between 5.5 and 6 points depending on the book, basically offering us the same odds as in the last game. You get there any which way, whatever it takes. That's a twelve point swing and unexceptionable from a team of the Spurs defensive caliber, and they will have to do a better job coming out of the breaks going forward.
Dejounte Murray, the Spurs rookie who started Game 3 in Tony Parker's absence, may not have filled up the stat sheet, but he played as important a role as any in the game plan. The Rockets could pull even but fail to cover, and at these prices, I'm will to bet it will happen this way. Mills outscored the Rockets' entire bench, which managed ten points in total.
Head coach Gregg Popovich made the necessary adjustments after the Game 1 loss and kept things status quo after his point guard went down in Game 2.
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