Is Game 2 A Must-Win For The Spurs? 


Following Monday night’s blowout 126-99 loss in San Antonio, Greg Popovich’s postgame interview was brief as usual, the headline being, “We lost, and they won, and they played better.”

He wasn’t wrong. He was as somber as ever after the Spurs struggled to take care of the seventh-seeded Grizzlies in Round One and were shockingly blown out by the Rockets in the Western Conference Semi-Finals opener. A sense of urgency has come to San Antonio for the first time since their back-to-back Finals duels with LeBron and the Heat a couple years ago.

Once again we’re witnessing the D’Antoni/Popovich matchup in the Western Conference playoffs, and so far it seems like D’Antoni’s run-and-gun style of offense has gotten the better of “The System.”

In Game 1, the Rockets dished out 30 assists to the Spurs’ 19 and shot 46 percent from the field compared to the Spurs’ embarrassing 36.9 percent from the field. While the Rockets can’t count on out-shooting the Spurs all series, the 30 assists is a great sign for their fluid offense.

MVP-candidate James Harden did his part, scoring 20 points on 6-13 from the field, dishing out 14 assists, and even coming away with four steals (and just three turnovers). Aside from Harden, the Rockets had five other players score double-digits in points – including a team-high 23 from Trevor Ariza and 20 from Clint Capela.

The Spurs’ defense was just nonexistent in Game 1, and other Kawhi Leonard scoring 21 points, pulling down 11 boards, and dishing out six assists, had no other players really show up in the first game of the series. The team was 9-of-29 on three-pointers while Houston shot a ridiculous 22-of-50 on threes. Danny Green was a miserable 2-of-9 from beyond the arc in Game 1 as well.

Look for San Antonio to try and control the pace more in Game 2, knowing the importance of winning back home-court advantage. Houston will again be yacking up the three-ball, of course, and if they can continue to find open looks then Game 2 may be just as much of a runaway as Game 1.

I wouldn’t expect the Spurs to get blown out twice in a row at home. Expect Pau Gasol to put up more than three shots and Green to shoot better on threes.

Tonight’s game should be an interesting clash of styles and we’ll see if the Spurs can answer James Harden and his own threes company. Should be a hard-fought game and I could see it going either way or coming down to strategic play down the stretch.

About Brandon Wentz

Mayor of the borough of Mt. Carbon, Pennsylvania. Disappointed fan of the Phoenix Suns. Humble narcissist. Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/thebighonch

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