The Rockets and Spurs are tied 2 wins a piece in their 7 game series. They face off at the AT&T center in a pivotal Game 5 as the winner takes control of the series. Both teams will be entering this game like it is a must-win game. The Spurs must find a way to bounce back after following 2 straight wins with a blowout loss. Going into Game 5 The Rockets need to win in order to go back to their home crowd on the verge of closing out the series meanwhile The Spurs need to win in order to avoid that possibility. Spurs veteran guard Manu Ginobili is well aware that his team needs to treat it like it is Game 7.
“We had a great opportunity (in Game 4) to go back to San Antonio up 3-1 and in a better situation,” Ginobili said. “Now it’s 2-2 and we have to go in knowing that every possession is a game-winning possession.”
Meanwhile the Rockets need to make more adjustments now that veteran backup Center Nenê is out for the remainder of the postseason due to a left adductor tear in his quad. The rest of Rockets bench has to step up and replace his physical presence and production in the paint. Throughout the playoffs Nenê has improved his play averaging 10ppg and 4.7rpg on 70 percent shooting in just under 18 minutes per game compared to his 9.1ppg and 4.2rpg on 61 percent shooting during the season. James Harden understands the type of impact that Nenê’s absence will have on the Rockets throughout the rest of this series.
“Nenê is a big part of what we do,” Harden said. “Guys have to step up. It’s an opportunity for guys who don’t play big minutes and for guys who haven’t really played and might get some opportunities. Whoever it is we’ve got to try to fill that role.”
Most likely Montrez Harrell will replace Nenê in the lineup. Harrell has only played an average of 4 minutes per game in 4 games throughout the playoffs, being ineffective only playing during garbage time in blowouts.
Since 2002, the Spurs have a .743 winning percentage in home playoff games. With help from their home crowd the Spurs will keep their defensive energy at a high level, grabbing just enough stops to get past the Rockets.
The last game they played in San Antonio this series and even though it has been unfortunate (for Spurs fans especially) to endure the loss of Tony Parker, it has caused Lamarcus Aldridge to improve his play these playoffs. His play on both ends of the floor (along with Kawhi Leonard) is detrimental to the Spurs success.