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Rockets try to clinch No. 4 seed Monday vs. Spurs
By: Zach Cohen - StatFox
Published: 4/14/2014  at  8:12:00 AM
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Tip-off: Tuesday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Houston -5.5, Total: 212

The Rockets look to secure home court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs with a home win over the Spurs on Monday night.

San Antonio has won two straight games and is now 8-2 SU in its past 10 contests to clinch the Western Conference regular season title. With home-court throughout the entire playoffs already clinched, there’s a good chance PF Tim Duncan (knee) will take the night off, and both SG Manu Ginobili (hamstring) and PF Matt Bonner (sick) are listed as questionable, but are unlikely to suit up. The club is a remarkable 30-10 SU (25-15 ATS) on the road this season. Houston has no time to be patient as the team sits just one-half game ahead of the Trail Blazers in the standings with two games left on the schedule. SF Chandler Parsons (wrist) is listed as questionable, but it is likely he’ll play given the circumstances of the game. The Rockets are coming off a 111-104 home victory over the Pelicans on Saturday, but lost their two previous games. But they haven't lost much at home this season, going 32-8 SU (20-17-3 ATS) at Toyota Center, which is why getting the No. 4 seed is so important for them. Houston is also 3-0 (SU and ATS) against the Spurs this season, and over the past three seasons, the team owns a 4-1 SU advantage (3-2 ATS) when hosting San Antonio. But this season, the Spurs are 15-4 ATS after a combined score of 215+ points. However, the Rockets are 7-1 ATS this season after failing to cover in four of their previous five games.

Can the Rockets clinch a top-four seed in the conference on Monday? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts are finishing the regular season strong at 53.2% ATS (59-52-5) in NBA Best Bets since March 9. StatFox Zach is a stellar 67% ATS (16-8-1) in NBA Best Bets since March 9, while StatFox Gary has remained hot with a 56% ATS mark (22-17-1) in Best Bets since Feb. 13. StatFox Dave has a profitable 55% ATS (51-42-3) NBA Best Bets record since Dec. 1, while StatFox Brian is 54% ATS (30-26-2) in Best Bets since Jan. 25.

The Spurs are coming off a 112-104 home victory over the Suns in which SG Danny Green (9.1 PPG) led the team in scoring with 33 points. Green, however, has had trouble finding space against the Rockets this season, averaging just 6.5 PPG in two games. PG Tony Parker (16.8 PPG, 5.8 APG) had 18 points and three assists in 24 minutes in Friday's win, and in three games against the Rockets this season, Parker is averaging 16.7 PPG and 5.3 APG in just 34.0 MPG. SF Kawhi Leonard (12.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.8 SPG) has come on strong recently. Leonard is averaging 17.6 PPG and 6.4 RPG over the past five contests and the timing of his strong play couldn’t be more perfect with his teammates banged up and the playoffs right around the corner. Leonard is averaging just 9.5 PPG and 5.5 RPG in two games against the Rockets this season, but with SG Manu Ginobili (12.4 PPG, 4.3 APG) and PF Tim Duncan (15.2 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.9 BPG) expected to be out, Leonard should get a lot more touches than he usually does. He could have a big game if he attacks the basket and takes advantage of Chandler Parsons, who will be playing injured if he takes the court on Monday.

Houston hosts the Spurs in a game that has major playoff implications, as the club is trying to finish the season with the Western Conference’s No. 4 seed for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. In the Rockets' 111-104 victory over the Pelicans on Saturday, SG James Harden (25.5 PPG, 6.1 APG, 4.8 RPG) had 33 points and 13 assists. Harden is averaging 29.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG and 6.0 APG in two games against the Spurs this season. With Manu Ginobili hurt, Harden will need to attack the basket and do his absolute best to dominate this game. C Dwight Howard (18.4 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 1.8 BPG) returned from an eight-game absence with a bad ankle to have 13 points and six rebounds in 29 minutes against the Pelicans. Howard is averaging 17.0 PPG and 15.7 RPG in three games against the Spurs this season. If Tim Duncan does not play in this game, the Rockets will need to run their offense through Howard and allow him to take over in the post. Houston would really miss SF Chandler Parsons (16.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 4.0 APG) if he is unable to go in this one. Parsons is averaging 19.3 PPG, 5.5 APG and 4.0 RPG over the past four contests, and has posted 17.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 5.0 APG against the Spurs this season. He is an excellent two-way player and could really help the Rockets in this one.

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