5 Predictions for San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets Christmas Day Showdown
Predicting The Spurs vs. Rockets Christmas Day Game
Before this season started, the NBA’s annual Christmas Day games all seemed like they’d be exciting, important, hard fought matchups. Now that we’re a few months into the season everything has changed. The Chicago Bulls have lost Derrick Rose and are painful to watch. Their opponents, the Brooklyn Nets, have proved that money can’t buy everything and sit at 9-15. The New York Knicks, last year’s No. 2 seed in the east, have totally collapsed and play the Oklahoma City Thunder, who look like championship contenders. And the world champion Miami Heat will play the worst Los Angeles Lakers team we’ve seen since the Smush Parker era.
Two games should live up to their scheduled date, though. The Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors are two of the most exciting teams in the NBA, and the matchup could go either way. The Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs are two of the best teams in the Western Conference and could play a long series against each other in the playoffs. Additional storylines like the battle for best team in Texas and the two very different styles both teams play make this is a definite must-watch game.
The Rockets are a newly contending team. They’ve become an offensive powerhouse with the recent acquisition of flashy superstars James Harden and Dwight Howard, while the Spurs are all around excellent, using depth, strategy, and defense to remain perennial contenders. The Rockets won their first contest with the Spurs this year, but with two teams of this caliber going at it, anything is possible. Here are five predictions for the Rockets and Spurs Christmas Day match up.
5. The Spurs Will Rest At Least One Star Player
Last year Spurs coach Greg Popovich benched three of his biggest stars during a nationally televised game against the Miami Heat. Popovich incurred a fine from the league as this move likely hurt ratings. Popovich’s Spurs have the unique combination of being both old and deep. This provides the reason to rest his players and allows him to do so without sacrificing competitiveness. With Tony Parker ailing from a shin injury and Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan needing plenty of rest, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see Popovich rest one or more of his big three in what will probably be their most watched regular season game.
4. James Harden Will Go Off
Despite the Spurs’ stingy defense, James Harden has performed surprisingly well against them. Over his career against the Spurs he’s shot 51 percent from the field and 48 percent from three in 13 total games. Last year he averaged 30.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and six assists against the Spurs. This year he lit them up for 31 points in their first matchup, a 112-106 Rockets victory. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him put up a similar performance on Christmas.
3. Omer Asik Will Be Long Gone
Omer Asik is one of the top defensive centers in the game. Unfortunately for him, the Rockets have another top defensive center in Dwight Howard who can actually produce on the offensive end as well. Asik has requested a trade, and the Rockets’ front office is doing its best to oblige his request. The deal is supposed to be done by December 19, and it would be a huge shock to the league if Asik is still in a Rockets uniform next week.
2. Gregg Popovich Will Get At Least One Technical Foul
Gregg Popovich is arguably the best active coach in the NBA. He has led the Spurs to four championships while entertaining fans along the way with his gruff persona. He is famous for his one word, stating the obvious answers to questions from media and for sticking up for his players. In their last game against the Rockets, Popovich became enraged when Rockets’ coach Kevin McHale stood in Tim Duncan’s way on an inbound pass. There will be plenty of things to anger Coach Popovich on Christmas, and the league likes to give him technical fouls. Look for him to get at least one.
1. The San Antonio Spurs Will Win the Game
I actually changed my prediction here just before publishing this. At first I predicted the Rockets to win because the Spurs may be without Tony Parker or another key player and because this is a nationally televised game. The Spurs have nothing to prove, but the Rockets came into the season with a big, new superstar and expectations to win. They’ve done alright but still don’t really look like title contenders. Beating the reigning Western Conference Champs on Christmas would be a huge deal for the Rockets, plus James Harden will probably go off. But still, I’m going to go with the better team here. The Spurs are just so good, and it’s hard for me to believe the Rockets will beat them twice in a row. Either way, this game should come down to the wire as both teams have championship aspirations and the talent and coaching to back them up.