San Antonio (19-9) at Houston (22-4)
When: Friday, December 15th 2017
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
Time: 9:35 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Houston -6.5/212
The San Antonio Spurs got through the first 27 games of the season without star Kawhi Leonard just fine with 19 wins, and will look to get even stronger now that he’s back. Leonard and the Spurs will visit the red-hot Houston Rockets for the first time this season on Friday night at Toyota Center. The Spurs failed to record a win in Leonard’s return from a quad injury on Tuesday, dropping a 95-89 decision at Dallas. Leonard scored 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting over 16 minutes in his debut. The Rockets have yet to lose since the return of one of their stars, Chris Paul. The point guard posted 31 points and 11 assists in a 108-96 win over Charlotte on Wednesday for Houston’s 11th straight victory. The Rockets lead the Southwest Division by four games over the Spurs. The teams are meeting for the first time since San Antonio knocked off Houston in six games in the Western Conference semifinals last Spring.
Leonard played until the end of the third quarter as San Antonio was outscored 28-20 in the fourth to snap a four-game winning streak. Leonard was an MVP candidate and first-team all-defensive performer while averaging a career-high 25.5 points and shooting 48.5% from the floor last season. The Spurs received nothing from center Pau Gasol on Tuesday, going scoreless on 0-of-2 shooting in 22 minutes. Power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who helped carry the load in Leonard’s abscence, led the Spurs with 23 points against the Mavericks, but was just 9-of-23 from the field. The offensive star was Rudy Gay off the bench with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting including draining both of his three-point attempts. The Spurs are playing the rubber-game of their three-game road trip and will host Dallas tomorrow night.
Houston had no problem scoring even with Paul out, but now that the future Hall-of-Famer is back in the lineup, the defense is only getting better. The Rockets held the Hornets to 41.4% shooting from the floor on Wednesday, including 4-of-21 from 3-point range. Paul, who has been an All-Defensive first-teamer in each of the last six years and seven times in his career, is averaging 2.1 steals in his 12 games with the team – all wins. Star guard James Harden had an off night against Charlotte, hitting only 8 of his 22 shots for 21 points – 10 below his average – and was just 3-of-10 from long range. Power forward Ryan Anderson, who averages 11.7 points a game, has scored 12 total points in the last three games and is a dismal 2-for-11 from 3-point range. The Rockets will continue their seven-game homestand with a visit from Milwaukee on Saturday.
The Rockets are hot right now and it will take Leonard a while to get back to his normal level. Look for Harden to rebound from a sub-par effort and lead the Rockets to an easy win.
Pick: Rockets -7.5
- Spurs are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up loss.
- Spurs are 16-5 ATS in their last 21 Friday games.
- Spurs are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS loss.
- Spurs are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games playing on 2 days rest.
- Spurs are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 road games.
- Spurs are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Spurs are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 vs. NBA Southwest.
- Rockets are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Rockets are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 vs. Western Conference.
- Rockets are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 home games.
- Rockets are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games playing on 1 days rest.
- Rockets are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
- Under is 7-0 in Spurs last 7 games playing on 2 days rest.
- Under is 4-0 in Spurs last 4 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Under is 5-0 in Spurs last 5 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Under is 4-0 in Spurs last 4 vs. Western Conference.
- Under is 4-0 in Spurs last 4 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
- Under is 10-1 in Spurs last 11 road games.
- Over is 14-4 in Spurs last 18 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Over is 22-7 in Spurs last 29 games following a straight up loss.
- Under is 5-2 in Spurs last 7 overall.
- Under is 5-2 in Spurs last 7 vs. NBA Southwest.
- Over is 15-7 in Spurs last 22 games following a ATS loss.
- Under is 6-1 in Rockets last 7 vs. NBA Southwest.
- Under is 4-1 in Rockets last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Under is 5-2 in Rockets last 7 Friday games.
- Under is 6-1 in the last 7 meetings in Houston.
- Spurs are 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings in Houston.
- Underdog is 6-2 ATS in the last 8 meetings.
- Road team is 9-2 ATS in the last 11 meetings.