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Previewing the Spurs-Rockets rematch

8 days after an exciting defensive battle on Christmas Day, the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets renew their I-10 rivalry on Saturday in what will certainly be a terrific game.

When these two teams met on Christmas Day in Houston, the Spurs struggled from the field shooting the ball, but they also forced Houston to struggle shooting the ball too. Kawhi Leonard scored 20 points, but the Spurs were unable to get any stops down the stretch as the Rockets pulled off an upset winning 88-84. However, both teams have changed since. The Spurs have won 3 straight since that game, and the Rockets have lost 3 straight, including a 114-110 loss to the Warriors who were without Stephen Curry. The strength of the Spurs has been their defense, which been historically dominant so far this season and has carried the Spurs to their 28-6 record. Reigning defensive player of the year Kawhi Leonard has picked up right where he left off last season, leading the Spurs to their second best record in team history entering the new year.

Meanwhile, the Rockets have had a majorly disappointing season. Last season, the Rockets were in the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 1997, but this year they have been a dissapointment. They fired coach Kevin Mchale after a 7-11 start, and replaced him with interim head coach BJ Bickerstaff, and are 16-18 this season. Where as the Spurs defense has been their strength this season, it’s been the Rockets kryptonite. They did pull off a stunning upset on Christmas Day when they beat the Spurs, and not just by beating them, but by playing solid defense, holding the Spurs to 84 points. But to be able to have a strong defensive performance against this Spurs team twice is a very, very, VERY tall order for the Rockets, and with Tim Duncan returning after a three game absence, and Kawhi Leonard playing very well and Lamarcus Aldridge dominating games recently, the Rockets could be in for a long night.

With 3 days off before this game, and Duncan returning, the edge obviously belongs to the Spurs on Saturday night. Things have been known to happen when these two teams square off, but the Spurs have’nt forgot their heartbreaking loss to Houston on Christmas, and won’t let the Rockets get away with anther win against them.

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