However, this is exactly what happened as the Rockets blitzed the Spurs in Game 1.
The score is a bit surprising, but it’s also understandable when considering that Houston made 22 of 50 three-pointers – both postseason records.
This was never much of a contest because the Rockets led by 39 at one point. But these are the same Spurs who won 61 games and are nearly unbeatable at home. Will they avenge their loss?
Find out as we cover both teams heading into Game 2 of this semifinals playoff matchup. We’ll also discuss whom you should bet on based on recent trends.
Western Conference Semifinals Series Game 2:
Houston Rockets vs San Antonio Spurs (Rockets lead series 1-0)
Wednesday, May 3 @ 9:35pm ET
GTBets.eu Betting Line: Houston +5.5 (-110); San Antonio -5.5 (-110)
Over/Under: 215 (-110)
Why the Spurs will Cover their -5.5 Spread
Little has been done to dissuade the upset theory after the Spurs surrendered a playoff-record 22 three-pointers. But there’s cause for optimism in San Antonio’s locker room, and it starts with knowing that Houston won’t do this every night.
“It’s just one game, but at the same time, we have to understand what happened,” said Tony Parker. “But if they shoot the ball like that, we’ll just have to shake their hands.”
The biggest change that San Antonio needs to make includes forcing the Rockets to play at their pace. Coach Gregg Popovich hit on this in the postgame press conference.
“Sure, we competed. But I don’t think we executed in a very wise manner,” said Popovich. “We disobeyed a lot of basic basketball rules that they could take advantage of. If we’re going to shoot quickly and shoot poorly, it’s going to be a fast-break deal all night long, and they were better at that than we are. So we’ve got to play a lot smarter than what we saw tonight.”
Besides changing their pace, San Antonio also needs to do a better job of knocking down their open looks. Houston isn’t a defensive stalwart, but they looked like it as the Spurs only hit 36.9% from the field. Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, LaMarcus Aldridge, Manu Ginobili, and Parker all had off-shooting nights.
The good news for the Spurs is that things won’t get any worse than this. And no disrespect to bona-fide MVP candidate James Harden, but Leonard is the best two-way player in this series. That said, we won’t be surprised if San Antonio regains their confidence and wins the second game.
San Antonio ATS Record: The Spurs are 4-3 against the spread in the playoffs. They were a perfect 3-0 against at home against Memphis, before losing to Houston. We don’t expect the Rockets to come out on fire again, and the Spurs will likely cover -5.5.
Why the Rockets will Cover their +5.5 Spread
For Houston, few adjustments are needed after blowing San Antonio out in a hostile environment. They shot a blistering 44% from the three-point line, with six players hitting 2 or more three’s. Based on the Rockets’ hot night, this contest was over by halftime.
But the Rockets had more than just great three-point shooting. Clint Capela hit 8-of-10 shots in the paint, and added 13 rebounds and two blocks. Nene Hilario also played solid, scoring 7 points and grabbing 5 boards. These two helped neutralize one of the Spurs’ advantages, which is inside play.
Of course, we can’t forget the man who makes Houston go since James Harden had a good all-around game, with 20 points, 14 assists, and 4 steals. As his assists indicate, Harden was willing to take a backseat to players like Capela, Trevor Ariza (23 points), and Ryan Anderson (14 points).
It was obvious that San Antonio wanted to slow down The Beard. But it was also obvious that their perimeter defenders had trouble checking Ariza, Anderson, Eric Gordon, Patrick Beverly, and Lou Williams on the three-point line.
Houston making their open three’s and playing at a breakneck pace are a lethal combination – one that San Antonio obviously couldn’t handle (nor anybody else).
The key for the Rockets will be coming out and establishing the pace once again. If they can do this, then they stand a strong chance of going up 2-0 in this series.
Houston ATS Record: The Rockets are 4-2 against the spread in the postseason, including a perfect 3-0 on the road. Don’t expect this to continue, though, with a fired-up San Antonio team looking for revenge.
Final Thoughts on Houston vs. San Antonio Betting
Based on how last game went, it’s hard to bet against the Rockets this time around. However, we expect the Game 1 blowout to be an anomaly, rather than the norm moving forward.
This certainly isn’t to say that the Rockets can’t win Game 2. But we have trouble seeing the 61-win Spurs losing yet another contest at home.
Odds are that Popovich and San Antonio figure out how to slow the game down and better cover Houston’s outside shots. We think this will be a close contest, but one in which the Spurs pull away at the end.
Final Score Prediction: San Antonio wins 109-103