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Spurs hammer Rockets to reach conference finals

13 May 2017

He started feeling sick prior to the series against the Spurs, which also explains why he struggled at the beginning of the series (combined for 33 points on 9-30 shooting in games 1 & 2).

This was a truly dominant showing on all fronts. According to SportVU, the Spurs moved at an average of 3.94 miles per hour on defense in Game 6, 10 percent faster than they did in Game 5.

Patty Mills chipped in 14 points and seven assists for San Antonio while Pau Gasol added 10 points and 11 boards. Houston couldn't score, and instead of trying a last ditch takeover and attempting to overwhelm San Antonio's tactically sound defense with his sheer talent, he deferred. The Rockets grabbed 37. The defense is dominating opponents, averaging over seven steals and seven blocks each game. In 10 postseason games, before this total dud, Harden had a point more than the regular season, shot 1.5 percent less, assisted about three times fewer but also decreased his turnovers.

Opposite of the leaderless Rockets, the leaderless Spurs had no mercy.

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Dismissing that totally illogical premise, San Antonio showed once again that it's one of most complete teams in the National Basketball Association, fortified by balance, intensity, energy and a depth that belies its current health. This is why they paid him all that money two off-seasons ago. While many blamed Harden's poor play for his lack of effort, some pundits have unabashedly pointed their fingers at Lil B. Harden - the engine of this high-powered machine - was non-existent. D'Antoni had a wonderful regular season, and I think his positive demeanor and temperament were what this team probably needed coming off of the storm clouds of the Dwight Howard era, but this series (and Thursday night, particularly) was all of his nightmares wrapped up in two weeks. Rockets had an awesome season, but this loss leaves a bad after taste. The Rockets shot 28.6 percent from the field, committed 13 turnovers that led to 22 Spurs points, and looked like a lifeless bunch of zombies throughout. "I know they feel as bad as I do".

They moved the ball, played suffocating defence and had the Houston crowd booing the hometown team by half-time. "They were a better team this series".

With Tony Parker out for the series and Khawi Leonard out for Game 6, most people felt the Houston Rockets would run away with the contest to extend the series to a 7th game. A miss-or-make league.

Leonard's Game 6 absence opened the door for Jonathon Simmons to start a playoff game, and the second-year man delivered nicely Thursday night with 18 points, four assists and one steal.

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What the Warriors will have to contend with is LaMarcus Aldridge playing up to his capabilities. Leonard, Jonathan Simmons and the platoon of guards and wings found creases to drive all too often. Truly, this was the finest manifestation of the famous Spurs system.

When you try to recall the memories of Kings/Spurs playoff matchups, however, one moment comes to mind - and it wasn't a San Antonio win.

Thursday night was a rough one for NBA MVP candidate James Harden, who performed horribly in a playoff elimination loss then got doubly eviscerated on social media for hitting the nightclub scene later that evening.

"I apologize to James harden I'm ready to talk and end the curse... it's time to talk and be the leader everyone believes you are", the Based God wrote on Twitter shortly after Houston's devastating loss. Well, there was plenty of speculation going around, but we should be careful not to jump to conclusions. Kawhi Leonard did not play due to a lingering ankle injury. Harden, in the end, could never catch his breath. Was this a leadership failure? I can get him off the ball some.

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Regardless, against a San Antonio team without their superstar, Houston could have done better than getting a 39-point beatdown on their home court with their backs against the wall.