The Rockets will clash with the Spurs in what promises to be a fun, back-and-forth second round series with exciting endings. Let's analyze the series price betting market in order to find the right NBA pick.
The Thunder-Rockets first round series featured many high-scoring, tight games in which James Harden and Russell Westbrook shined, but Houston's superior depth allowed them to take care of the Thunder in five games.
The Spurs had a harder time against the physical defense of a talented Grizzlies team, but stellar showings from Kawhi Leonard helped them prevail in six games. Memphis tested San Antonio in a series that should prepare them for the challenges ahead.
The Spurs won three of four over the Rockets in the regular season. It was the third straight season in which San Antonio finished 3-1 against Houston but the overall numbers can be deceiving, as all four games were pretty close. Three games were decided by just two points and one by six points.
The Rockets were 2-2 ATS against the Spurs and the 'under' went 3-0-1, so keep those trends in mind before placing NBA picks.
Harden vs. Leonard
These two teams are more similar than many imagine. Sure, their playing styles are contrasting and each team culture is unique but both rely on their superstars to get them going.
The Rockets have counted on James Harden to be the face of the franchise and deliver on the court on a nigthly basis and he's had a career year, creating scoring opportunities left and right.
The Spurs need superstar type production from Kawhi Leonard, who has become one of the best players in the NBA. Leonard leads the Spurs in points, assists and steals and he has been dominant at both ends of the court, prompting some to consider him the best two-way player in the league.
What Harden and Leonard have in common is that they trust their teammates. They can lead their teams but they always find ways to get other players involved.
Biggest Key to Win the Series
The Rockets got 50.0 points per game off the bench in the series against the Thunder and they need Eric Gordon, Lou Williams and the rest of their reserves to maintain that level of production against the Spurs in order to upset them in this series.
The Houston bench was among the most productive during the regular season, averaging 39.5 points per game (fifth in the NBA), but the Spurs ranked sixth with 38.7 points. As good as Harden, Leonard, Aldridge and Beverley are, the benches could decide this series.
San Antonio is at -210 NBA odds to win this series at William Hill while Houston is at +175. The Rockets have enough offense to pressure the Spurs' defense. Houston's perimeter shooting can rack up points quickly but they lack size and versatility on defense.
The Harden-Leonard matchup will be fun to watch and one of the keys to this series but LaMarcus Aldridge can be the X-factor because the Rockets don't have an answer for him. Most games will be tight and in my opinion, the Spurs will win this series in seven games.