Game example: San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets

The remodel is progressing as you’d expect for the Houston Rockets in the wake of last season’s James Harden outage. The Rockets were able to take 19-year-old Jalen Green out of the G League in the low season with the 2nd overall pick, but Green still has a long way to go when it comes to learning the NBA game. He also doesn’t have a lot of help in the veterans department as the rest of the team is a bit of a who’s who of young players. Houston’s roster currently consists of 11 players with less than 3 years of NBA experience, including 6 rookies. They still have Christian Wood

The Spurs seemed to be turning a corner before essentially getting a big bag of COVID for the holidays. San Antonio comes in tonight with potentially 6 players out for health and safety protocols, a figure that includes 3 starters. Add Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker to that list and that brings the total to 8 Spurs who have missed time in the past 2 weeks due to COVID-19. Such lineup chaos goes a long way to explaining the collapse of the past two weeks, leaving them 10 games behind .500.

Good for them though, maybe they’ll get backup tonight. The revamped health protocols setting the isolation period for players who test positive but show no symptoms to 6 days instead of 10 could see the return of 4 players tonight, including 2 starters (Derrick White and Keldon Johnson) and a 3rd who has recently given time as starter (Devin Vassell).

San Antonio traces (15-24) vs Houston Rockets (11-31)

January 12, 2022 | 19:30 CT

Watch: Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs Injuries: Zach Collins (out – single), Doug McDermott (out – COVID-19 protocols), Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Tre Jones (out – COVID-19 protocols)

Missile injuries: Trevelin Queen (Day to Day), Eric Gordon (Groin – Day to Day), Armoni Brooks (Out – Covid-19 Protocols), Alperen Sengun (Single – Out)

What should you pay attention to?

  • The most important thing to watch out for is who’s fit for the Spurs tonight. There’s a chance Keldon Johnson, Derrick White and Devin Vassell could all return from their COVID-19 quarantine tonight as it would fall 6 days from their first listing (they were all listed on January 6) ). It’s unclear which players who don’t have COVID are symptomatic, but we’ll see as the day progresses if they can get back on the hardwoods tonight.
  • Christian Wood is arguably Houston’s best player as their rebuild begins. A 6’10 forward, Wood has averaged a double-double (17/10) this season and is a very willing 3-point shooter, averaging nearly 5 tries from outside the arc per game. Fortunately for Spurs, Jakob Poeltl is as versatile a defender as any great man can be.

  • Lonnie Walker IV followed a season-high 25 point loss to the Nets with a 15 point, 5/19 stinker at the Garden the next day. But with so many guys in the lineup, at least Walker showed a willingness to look for his shot that he sometimes lacked throughout his career. Walker took 39 shots over the course of the recent back-to-back and if guys are still missing from the lineup, it’s safe to expect a similar effort.

For the Rockets fan’s perspective, check out The Dream Shake

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