Spurs vs. Rockets 2017, NBA playoffs: Schedule, scores, predictions, and news

A close series ended in a dud.

The last game between the Rockets and the Spurs fell just short of playoff game of the year. In the first half, James Harden displayed unconscious shooting while Houston’s offense sliced up San Antonio. But Harden fell apart down the stretch, as he often does, failing to score after the 3:12 mark in the fourth quarter as Houston went on to lose in overtime.

Now, the Rockets find themselves in must-win territory at home for Game 6 with a best-case scenario of a decisive Game 7 on the road in San Antonio.

Houston’s caught breaks; they just haven’t taken advantage of them. The Spurs lost Tony Parker to a ruptured left quadriceps tendon in Game 2, an injury that’s sidelined him for the season and put the veteran point guard’s future in doubt. They also won Game 5 down the stretch without Kawhi Leonard, who turned his ankle midway through the fourth and sat the final minutes of that quarter and overtime.

This exciting second-round playoff series has been everything we’ve expected, and then some.

The two teams are of course led by individuals who both belong within the top-five in the league. (The All-NBA voting will almost certainly reflect that this season.) Beyond that, the Rockets boast depth that accentuates their Mike D’Antoni-led offense that demands threes and layups at a rate we’ve never witnessed before. In San Antonio, the roster is staggered with slightly more hierarchy with an emphasis on the kind of fundamentally sound two-way players who have made the Spurs so successful over the years.

The Spurs won the season series three games to one, but the more important takeaway from those games is how close they were. Three of the final scores were decided by only two points, while the outlier was a six-point San Antonio win. When four games are determined by an average of three points, it really indicates that this series could be a coin flip.

San Antonio, by adding two-time champion Pau Gasol and the playoff-wizened LaMarcus Aldridge to the old crew of Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, boasts more playoff experience, but Houston doesn’t lack for veterans, either. This series may come down to which superstar leader can outshine the other.

Either way, the victor dances with a goliath Golden State Warriors team soaking up a week’s worth of rest after sweeping the Utah Jazz.

Series schedule

Game 1: Rockets 126, Spurs 99

Game 2: Spurs 121, Rockets 96

Game 3: Spurs 103, Rockets 92

Game 4: Rockets 125, Spurs 104

Game 5: Spurs 110, Rockets 107

Game 6: Spurs 114, Rockets 75

Key matchup: San Antonio’s centers vs. Houston’s centers

It would be easy to put down Leonard and Harden in this spot. Coming off two first-round series where both starting centers were played off the floor, though, it’s worth looking at the big men in the middle.

The Spurs’ Dewayne Dedmon started the first three games against Memphis, but he was benched in Game 4 and played five minutes the rest of the series. Gasol and David Lee filled in for him, two offensively skilled big men who lack defensively. For Houston, while Clint Capela never lost his spot in the starting five, it got so bad with Capela dropping passes and flubbing layups that Harden asked D’Antoni to take him out. Instead, Nene played 51 minutes combined in the final two games, where he shot 17-of-20 from the floor.

Both starting centers are the only real hope for a traditional, defensive-minded approach from either team. If they get benched, we may see entire quarters featuring small ball, but Houston or San Antonio being able to rely on an effective shot blocker (plus roll man) could be enough to swing the entire series.

Predictions

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The Rockets were so fun all season, then it ended with a huge dud

The Rockets’ final game of the season was a 39-point loss to the Spurs at home.

We deserved better from the Rockets in Game 6, and they surely deserved better from themselves. Houston won 55 games this year with an MVP candidate in James Harden, giving us one of the most fun and exciting offensive teams we’ve seen in years. Then they were eliminated on Thursday night on their home floor by 39 points.

To make it worse, the Rockets lost this series even though the Spurs lost Tony Parker after Game 2, and Kawhi Leonard after Game 5. To make it even worse, the Rockets won Game 1 by the score of 126-99 in San Antonio.

For a moment in time, it seemed like the beautiful plan that the Rockets had put together all season was bypassing the Spurs right before our eyes. Sure, the Spurs are the Spurs. Gregg Popovich will always be a living basketball god. But the Rockets let everyone down.

The Rockets changed the game all season. They broke the record for most made three-pointers in a season, taking down the Warriors’ previous record. Houston finished with 1,181 on the year, with the previous record at 1,077.

James Harden was the first player ever to assist for 2,000 points and score 2,000 points. After such a brutal 2015-16 season, the Rockets really turned things around and Harden called it his most fun season yet in the NBA.

But in their final game of the season Harden had 10 points, 7 assists, and 6 turnovers and Houston lost by 39. Dejounte Murray of the Spurs even outscored him.

They Rockets looked shook for the entire game. At halftime, down 19, this was the shot ESPN caught of the two respective leaders of the team. The Rockets never even made a run; the deficit just got larger and larger.

The Rockets didn’t appear to have the fight you’d expect a 55-win team to have. When push came to shove, they weren’t ready to battle. They had a fantastic season and have plenty to build on, but being eliminated by 39 on your home floor is a horrible way to go out.

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After 30 years, this former Texas A&M defensive back will finally earn his degree

This is such a cool story.

On Friday morning, a former Texas A&M Aggies defensive back will walk across the graduation stage to receive his diploma, something that he first started to work toward over 30 years ago. Lance Jackson first stepped on TAMU’s campus in 1983, when he began his football career with the Aggies as a defensive back.

According to GigEm247, Jackson played for Texas A&M from 1983-85, ending his career during the Aggies’ Southwest Conference Championship season. Texas A&M capped off that season with a win over Bo Jackson’s Auburn Tigers in the Cotton Bowl. Lance says his playing career can easily be compared to getting his education.

“I can see a lot of similarities between my playing days and my education,” Jackson explained. “We struggled early in the 1980s but with the final two games of the 1984 season we knew we were coming together. That 1985 season was special with Coach (Jackie) Sherrill, Coach (R.C.) Slocum and Coach Curley Hallman, my defensive backs coach.

“In school, I was working on a kinesiology degree and there was a mix up with paper work and some paper had me withdrawn from school,” Jackson said. “I was tired of school at that time. Then in the spring of 1986, Miss Lillian Jean Clark Robinson hired me to work at the Lincoln Center in College Station.”

He’s been at the Lincoln Recreation Center for the past 19 years, working as the supervisor. Jackson admits that he was hesitant to get back in the classroom, being significantly older than his other students.

“I thought, ‘What am I doing with these young people?’ and thought about turning around and leaving,” Jackson said via 247Sports. “But the students, professors such as Dr. (John) Crompton and other staff members embraced me. I worked on group projects and had study groups help me make it through, even though I was a little older than the normal student.”

It’s been a long journey for the former Texas A&M defensive back, but on Friday morning, he’ll finally earn his bachelor’s degree in recreation, park and tourism sciences from the university. Congrats to Lance for achieving quite the accomplishment.

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Halo Boss Leaves Team To Work On Microsoft Mixed Reality

A big staffing change has taken place at Halo series steward 343 Industries. Studio head Dan Ayoub, who worked on entries in the series dating back to 2009’s Halo: Reach, has left the team.

He’s leaving gaming altogether, but is staying within Microsoft to work on the Mixed Reality team. There, he will work in an effort for the “empowerment of education through technology.”

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“Although Dan will be staying in the Microsoft family, and won’t be heading too far, our 343 family will miss his wit, wisdom and effort throughout the years,” reads a line from 343’s statement announcing his departure. “But Halo Wars 2 and its forthcoming DLC are in the safe hands of Dan’s team, with some wonderful DLC and other surprises still to come.”

The statement continues: “Over the years, Dan has helped us work with amazing studios and partners from literally every corner of the globe. They, like us are going to miss him, and Dan wanted us to express his thanks to both those partners, and to all the Halo fans and community who’ve been the fuel and fire that have ignited his passion and ambition, throughout the years.”

Prior to joining Microsoft, Ayoub worked as a senior producer at Electronic Arts for four years, then was a game director Propaganda Games for two, according to his public LinkedIn profile page. He then spent a year at Ubisoft as an executive producer.

343’s latest game is Halo Wars 2, which came out in February for Xbox One and PC. As the statement mentions, 343 continues to support the RTS with more post-launch content and updates.

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