The knee injury suffered by Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant is giving a team or two reason to believe it can jump up and challenge for the top spot in the Western Conference. The San Antonio Spurs, who sit second in the West, will try to keep the pressure on when they host the third-place Houston Rockets on Monday.
The Spurs, who sit five games clear of the Rockets, might be the only team with a realistic shot at the Warriors and are winners of seven in a row after outlasting the Minnesota Timberwolves in a second straight overtime victory on Saturday. San Antonio, which hosts the Warriors this weekend, began a stretch with six of seven at home with Saturday’s triumph after playing nine of 10 on the road. Houston won eight of its last 10 games and just got done breezing past a pair of West playoff contenders with wins over the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies by an average of 17 points. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” Rockets star point guard James Harden told reporters. “We’re winding down to the end of the season, and it’s very important for us to take care of business and lock in. We can face any of these opponents at any point in the postseason. We just want to continue to get better and win as many games as we can.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ROOT Southwest (Houston), FSN Southwest (San Antonio)
LINE HISTORY: The Spurs opened as 4-point home favorites and the point spread has yet to move off that opening number. The total hit the betting board at 220 and was bumped up a full point Monday morning. Check out the complete line history here.
Rockets – No injuries to report.
Spurs – No injuries to report.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Rockets (-9.1) – Spurs (-12.2) + home court (-3) = Spurs -6.1
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (44-19 SU, 36-27 ATS, 33-30 O/U): Harden continues to make a strong case for MVP and scored 20 of his 33 points in the third quarter on Saturday as Houston pulled away from the Grizzlies. Harden, including assists, accounted for 30 of the team’s 38 points in the decisive period and takes his playmaking responsibilities seriously. “I’ve been scoring and just being aggressive,” Harden told reporters. “I’m a playmaker, as well as a point guard, so I just pick and choose when I’m able to make plays. And in that third quarter was just about being aggressive.”
ABOUT THE SPURS (48-13 SU, 33-27-1 ATS, 33-28 O/U): One of Harden’s challengers for the MVP is San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, who is the offensive and defensive anchor for the team with the second-best record in the NBA. Leonard showed off his broad skillset in Saturday’s 97-90 win over Minnesota by collecting 34 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and six steals. “I try not to praise Kawhi too much,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters. “He’s getting paid to do that.”
* Rockets are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 vs. Western Conference.
* Spurs are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 Monday games.
* Under is 5-0 in Rockets last 5 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
* Under is 10-1 in Spurs last 11 games following a straight up win.
* Under is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings.
Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 53 percent of Covers users are taking chalk with the home favorite San Antonio Spurs and Under is picking up 57 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.