The defending NBA champions will face their most difficult challenge yet in the new NBA season, facing a Houston Rockets team that is still undefeated, not to mention came away with a four game sweep in the regular season a year ago against the Spurs.
The Spurs barely scraped past the Atlanta Hawks (94-92) to once again find themselves about .500, hoping that in Houston they’ll be able to win for the first time on the road this season. They had a narrow home win against the Mavs to start the season, and lost their only away game in Phoenix to the Suns.
Problems? Hard to call it problems this early in the season and especially when we’re talking about the Spurs. However, not everything is going according to plan, speaking mainly of Kawhi Leonard, averaging 8.5 points on 33% from the field after his first two games this season. Tiago Splitter is back from an early injury and might need a bit more time to get back to more respectable form, scoring five points in the win over the Hawks.
The driving force remains Tony Parker, as if there was any other option: He’s averaging 19.7 points through the first three games, getting help from the usual suspects: Tim Duncan, scoring 15.7 points a night and dropping 11.7 rebounds while Manu Ginobili is helping out with 11.3 points a night off the bench. Years go by, but some things never change.
Things are a bit more flashy and less sluggish for the Rockets, boasting a 5-0 record with four of the wins coming away from home. They have the 5th best offense in the NBA, scoring 105.6 points per game while allowing 91.4 points a night. They’re coming home after a day of rest, following their very impressive 17-point win over the Miami Heat in South Beach.
James Harden, obviously, is leading the scoring with 27.2 points a night. Interesting to see that he’s shooting badly, making only 38.8% of his attempts from the field. He is making up for it by attacking the rim quite often and going to the line, hitting 95.3% of his shots while attempting a league high 12.8 shots per game.
Dwight Howard has been just as impressive, only without the efficiency from the line. He’s been dominating in the paint, averaging 17.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. They’ve been getting a lot of help from Trevor Ariza, so far the best free agency pickup of the season in all the league with 17.6 points a night and Terrence Jones scoring 14 a night. Jones, like point guard Patrick Beverley, might not be playing, listed as a day-to-day. The Spurs have a clean bill of health.