Spurs History: Kawhi-less team destroys the Rockets to advance to WCF

San Antonio Spurs LaMarcus Aldridge (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
San Antonio Spurs LaMarcus Aldridge (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

In 2017, the San Antonio Spurs expected a dog fight with the Houston Rockets in Game 6 of the WCSF but instead demolished them in their building.

There’s nothing better than a hotly contested battle between two bitter rivals. That’s exactly what everyone was expecting when Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals tipped off in 2017. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs humiliated the Houston Rockets with a dominating performance that left the city of Houston confounded.

Considering what happened in Game 5 of the series, it seemed like a deciding Game 7 in San Antonio was inevitable, as Kawhi Leonard had gone down with ankle injury that kept him out of that game’s overtime period.

Despite losing Leonard, it was the heroic efforts of Manu Ginobili that sealed the game for the Spurs, and apparently sucked the confidence right out of James Harden and the entire Rockets squad.

I’ll get back to Game 6 shortly, but this clip can never be shared enough:

MANU GINOBILI blocks James Harden to seal @spurs Game 5 win! ? #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/2Z1UfCOoBI

— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 10, 2017

After coming off a triple-double of 33 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, Harden was expected to take full advantage of a Spurs team without their best player. Instead, he ended up being outscored by Jonathon Simmons (18).

Harden’s game against the shorthanded Spurs is often described as a meltdown, and rightly so. After having a season in which he finished second in MVP voting, The Beard took just 11 field goal attempts, making two, and finished with 10 points and six turnovers. His 10 points remain the lowest playoff output he’s ever had as a member of the Rockets to this day.

Houston’s supporting cast didn’t fare much better, as San Antonio’s tuned-in team defense only allowed one player to score over 15 points, Trevor Ariza (20).

As he usually does against the Rockets, LaMarcus Aldridge had another stellar game, scoring 34 on 16-of-26 from the field and pulling down 12 boards. Simmons, Patty Mills, Dejounte Murray, Danny Green and Pau Gasol also finished in double-figures in the scoring column.

Related Story. Spurs History: Aldridge torches OKC for 56 points

In looking at the full team statistics of the game, you’d think you were looking at the 1992 Dream Team against, well, anybody. The Spurs shot a blistering 53.1 percent to Houston’s ice-cold 28.6, outscoring them in every quarter of the game.

They also outrebounded the Rockets by 25 with a count of 69-44, out-assisted them 32-14, and tallied more team steals and blocks. When all was said and done, the Spurs led by as many as 42 points before annihilating Houston 114-75.

The @spurs advanced to the WCF with a 114-75 Game 6 win over the Rockets! #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/ysLYLleKZm

— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 12, 2017

Considering the absence of Kawhi, the fact that Ginobili played just 17 minutes, and James Harden’s high level of play up until that point, what the Spurs did at the Toyota Center that day was truly special.

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No matter what their roster looks like, you can bet San Antonio will always be ready to take on their I-10 rivals.