It took both the Spurs and the Rockets less than seven games to put a wrap on their first-round matchups against the Grizzlies and Thunder, respectively. Round two of the playoffs should present a bigger challenge for both teams as they battle for a spot in the Western Conference Finals — a pursuit that begins on Monday in San Antonio.
Here is the viewing information for Monday’s Game 1 between the Spurs and Rockets.
What: Game 1
When: Monday, May 1, 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
It’s incredible to think that two of the best teams in the Western Conference over the last two decades haven’t played each other in the playoffs in that same timespan.
Admittedly, Houston’s success during that period was more rooted in regular season success. The team won one playoff series between the Hakeem Olajuwon and James Harden eras, a period that included Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley, Tracy McGrady, and Yao Ming.
The Rockets had talent for sure. Most years, it was great talent. And they had great coaching as well. But Jeff van Gundy ran into Mark Cuban’s referee buddies and Rick Adelman ran into injuries. So while the Rockets put together great regular seasons over and over again, they never ran into their I-10 rivals. After all, if you cannot get past the first round, how can you run into a team that consistently outlasts others?
Think about this: Tim Duncan beat every Western Conference team in the playoffs except the Houston Rockets. He even has a series win over the Seattle Supersonics!
More than once it looked realistic. In 2007, the Rockets and Jazz went to 7 games with the winner getting a crack at the 8-seed Golden State Warriors, who had just toppled a 67-win Mavericks team. The winner of that series was almost (and eventually was) assured a Western Conference Finals appearance against the Spurs. The Jazz knocked off the Rockets and then the Warriors before getting humiliated by San Antonio.
Three years ago, Voldemort did some stuff to prevent a second-round Spurs-Rockets matchup. We don’t need to talk about it.
Two years ago, an insane final day of the regular season dropped the Spurs from the 2 seed down to the 6 in a period of about 3 hours. Still, the Rockets cruised against the 7-seed Mavericks and the Spurs held a 3-2 lead over the 3-seed Clippers with Game 6 in San Antonio. The Clippers shot lights out in the second half of that contest and in Game 7 Chris Paul hit one of the most incredible shots you’ll ever see. Luckily for Spurs fans, they saw the Clippers blow a 3-1 lead in the following series.