Don’t know about you, but I hate these games where the Spurs play the same twice in a week, or in this case, twice in three days. Particularly when the second of the games is on the road and the first of the games was a blowout for the good guys. But, Harden will be a game-time decision and, in game one, the Rockets looked like a mess. I’m not sure if Jeremy Lin is the guy we are seeing now or the guy who smacked around the Lakers last year.
1. Sustenance & Song: The Bluebonnet Cafe and Black Moth Super Rainbow’s “Born on a Day the Sun Didn’t Rise”
I’m partial to the Bluebonnet Cafe in Marble Falls, Texas, because I grew up there. Three things you need to know about the Bluebonnet: one, don’t look in the kitchen; two, the pie is fantastic; and three, it’s only open for breakfast and lunch, not dinner. The burgers and chicken fried steak are particularly good.
It’s a cold, overcast day here where I am and it made me think of this great piece of electronica-pop. This song is part of an album (Eating Us) that is all over the place. A few tracks stand out, but none more than this, if you like swirling, hypnotic, psychedelic music.
2. Key Match Up: Diaw / Splitter / Duncan vs. Asik
If Blair misses this game, it leaves the Spurs playing small ball more often than even Pop is comfortable. I like Asik a lot (although I’m not totally sure he was worth that contract), but there’s no question he can be a monster rebounder and rim protector. The Spurs bigs will need to refocus on defensive rebounds (which was a sore spot earlier in the season, for sure).
3. Keeping An Eye On: Neal / Green
Starting Danny Green and Gary Neal can be a problem on the defensive right off the bat against a team like Houston, although it did not hurt in last week’s game. But Houston’s size creates an issue for who Gary can guard. He can’t guard Harden; and if the Rockets start Parsons and Patterson, one of them plays SF, which means Gary can’t guard either of them either. If Harden sits tonight, it’s likely Carlos Delfino or Toney Dougals at 2, which changes things up again.
One the other hand, if both Neal and Green are hitting outside shots the off-defender for Houston will have a hard time staying on the floor as well and neither of the Houston fowards will want to chase those Neal and Green around screens.
4. Bold Prediction: Spurs Win, But It’s Closer
The Spurs can’t win every game in a blowout. I suspect the big games come to an end tonight as the scrappy Rockets rally at home around an injured Harden and their grieving coach, Kevin McHale, and try to make a better showing than they did against San Antonio last week or Dallas on Saturday.
Odds and Ends
The schedule makes have been brutal to the Spurs so far this year, but I will continually remind you to refer to Wayne’s post about the schedule by month to see where this thing flattens out. It’s tough right now, but you can take comfort in a 17-4 record with the second highest point differential in the West through 21 games. Given the injuries and Pop’s mad-scientist-like experimentation with lineups, it’s been a truly amazing start to the season. And Wayne was actually conservative in his prognostication of the Spurs record so far.