Playoffs 2017: West Semifinals -- Spurs (2) vs. Rockets (3)

Numbers preview: San Antonio Spurs (2) vs. Houston Rockets (3)

John Schuhmann

John Schuhmann

For the last few months, the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets have been on a collision course for a meeting in the conference semifinals. They’ve been the second and third best teams in the Western Conference for most of the season, and though the Memphis Grizzlies made things a little interesting for the Spurs in the first round, there was never much doubt we’d see these teams meet in the postseason for the first time in 22 years.

Amazingly, the Rockets are the only Western Conference franchise the Spurs haven’t played (or beaten) in the playoffs under Gregg Popovich.

The Spurs have home-court advantage, but do the Rockets have a higher ceiling? They took care of the Oklahoma City Thunder in just five games, even though they didn’t shoot particularly well. The Spurs shot very well, even though they’re the anti-Rockets in regard to shot selection.

This series will be contrast in styles, but also another matchup of MVP candidates. These were two of the league’s best three teams this season, but only one will make it to the final four.

Spurs-Rockets series hub | Fran Blinebury’s series preview

Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for just the fourth postseason meeting of these Texas teams, with links to let you dive in and explore more.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions

DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions

NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

San Antonio Spurs (61-21)

First round: Beat Memphis in six games.

Pace: 88.2 (15)

OffRtg: 116.8 (1)

DefRtg: 107.3 (9)

NetRtg: +9.5 (2)

Regular season: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

vs. Rockets: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Playoffs: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Spurs first round notes:

Scored 116.8 points per 100 possessions, 12.3 more than Memphis (the league’s No. 7 defense) allowed in the regular season. The Spurs’ was the biggest OffRtg increase and Memphis’ was the biggest DefRtg increase from the regular season to the first round.

One of two teams with multiple wins after trailing by 10 or more points in the first round. Trailed by 10-plus in Games 1, 3, 4 and 6 against Memphis, coming back to win Games 1 and 6. The Rockets (2-1) are the only other team with multiple wins after trailing by double-digits in the playoffs.

Pace of 88 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes was 8.3 slower than they played in the regular season. That was the biggest drop-off in pace from the regular season to the playoffs.

Took only 57.2 percent of their shots from the restricted area or 3-point range, the lowest rate in the first round.

Spurs and Rockets are two of the four teams that recorded assists on less than half of their field goals in the first round.

Kawhi Leonard ranked fifth in effective field goal percentage (61.5 percent) and led the first round in true shooting percentage (71.5 percent) among players who took at least 50 shots from the field. He also shot 59-for-61 (97 percent) from the free throw line, the best mark among players with at least 20 attempts.

Patty Mills (14-for-27) and Leonard (14-for-29) ranked second and fifth in 3-point percentage among players with at least 20 attempts.

Tony Parker shot 15-26 (58 percent) on pull-up jumpers, the best mark among players who attempted at least 25 in the first round. Leonard (18-for-29, 62 percent) and Parker (14-for-26, 54 percent) were two of the three best mid-range shooters among players with at least 25 mid-range attempts.

LaMarcus Aldridge took 38 of his 75 shots from mid-range. Among players who took at least 50 shots, Khris Middleton (41/78) was the only player who took more than 40 percent of his shots from between the paint and the 3-point line.

Outscored the Grizzlies by 29.3 points per 100 possessions with Leonard and Mills on the floor together, the second best two-man NetRtg among combinations that played at least 100 minutes together.

See Spurs-Grizzlies preview for regular season notes.

Houston Rockets (55-27)

First round: Beat Oklahoma City in five games.

Pace: 101.3 (3)

OffRtg: 109.7 (5)

DefRtg: 104.3 (6)

NetRtg: +5.4 (4)

Regular season: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

vs. San Antonio: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Playoffs: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Rockets postseason notes:

Took 82.1 percent of their shots from the restricted area or 3-point range, the highest rate in the first round.

Shot just 28 percent from 3-point range, the worst mark in the first round. Ryan Anderson (3-for-24) and James Harden (12-for-50) had the worst and fifth worst 3-point percentages among players with at least 20 attempts.

Set 78.4 ball screens per game, most in the first round and up from 64.7 (seventh most) in the regular season.

Best fourth-quarter team in the first round, outscoring the Thunder by 39.6 points per 100 possessions (50 total points) over those 60 minutes.

Outscored the Thunder 92-67 on second chance points. Were outscored 75-33 on fast break points.

Assisted on only 43.5 percent of their field goals, the lowest rate in the first round and down from 62.6 percent in the regular season. Only four of James Harden’s 44 baskets were assisted. Also rank last in playoff passes per possession at 2.4.

Starting lineup was outscored by 24.8 points per 100 possessions, the worst mark among lineups that played at least 35 minutes in the first round.

Harden averaged 19.0 drives per game, 4.5 more than any other player.

Nene shot 26-for-28 (92.9 percent) in the restricted area, the best mark among players with at least 25 attempts there.

Patrick Beverley led the first round with eight corner threes (on 12 attempts). Trevor Ariza, who led the league in corner threes each of the previous three seasons and ranked second this season, was 0-for-6 on corner threes in the first round.

See Rockets-Thunder preview for regular season notes.

The matchup

Season series: Spurs won 3-1 (2-0 in Houston)

Nov. 9 @ SAS – Rockets 101, Spurs 99

Nov. 12 @ HOU – Spurs 106, Rockets 100

Dec. 20 @ HOU – Spurs 102, Rockets 100

Mar. 6 @ SAS – Spurs 112, Rockets 110

Pace: 98.4

SAS OffRtg: 107.5 (12th vs. HOU)

HOU OffRtg: 103.5 (9th vs. SAS)

Matchup notes:

Patrick Beverley missed the first two meetings, Clint Capela missed the third meeting, and Lou Williams was only with the Rockets for the last meeting. The only significant absence for the Spurs in any of the games was that of Tony Parker on Nov. 9.

One of 10 season series with four games that were within five points in the last five minutes. Harden took 13 of the Rockets’ 23 clutch-time shots and made just three of the 13. The Rockets had eight clutch-time turnovers, while the Spurs had just two.

The Rockets were a plus-12 in 153 minutes with Harden on the floor and a minus-20 (shooting just 5-for-33 from 3-point range) in 39 minutes with Harden off the floor.

The Rockets scored 117.0 points per 100 possessions in the first and third quarters and 90.1 in the second and fourth quarters. They led the third meeting by 13 points and the fourth meeting 16 points. Those were two of the Spurs’ 17 wins after trailing by 10-plus.

In the Rockets’ win, they had 25 fast break points. In their three losses, they averaged 12.3.

Aldridge shot 6-for-31 from mid-range, but Leonard shot 22-for-43 (51 percent) from between the restricted area and the 3-point line.

According to SportVU, Danny Green defended Harden for more minutes (15.0) than Leonard did (10.6). He also held Harden to fewer shots (0.94) and points (1.07) per minute than Leonard did (1.04, 1.41).

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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