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Kawhi Leonard and James Harden Meet in Game 1 Monday

The Houston Rockets visit the San Antonio Spurs for Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals best of seven series on Monday May 1 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. The current line has San Antonio favored by 5.5 points with the over/under point total on 215.

In its past 10 games played, Houston is 7-3 while San Antonio is 5-5.

The two Western Conference rivals have quite a history dating back to when Hakeem Olajuwon battled David Robinson 20 years ago.

The current history includes two of the NBA’s top players Houston’s James Harden and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, of which both are the focal points of their respective teams.

Houston beat Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first round, while San Antonio struggled at times, but defeated the Memphis Grizzlies in their first round series.

The biggest key to Game 1 and the series will be if Leonard is matched up on defense against Houston’s Harden. Leonard is not only a superb talent on offense, but one of the better defenders in the league.

That matchup is more important for Houston that the Spurs. San Antonio can win even if Leonard is not the series’ best player, but Houston cannot win if Harden is not the series’ best player.

Of course both teams are not just about Leonard and Harden. Houston will look to attack Spurs defenders such as Pau Gasol and Tony Parker.

LaMarcus Aldridge and Gasol could be suspect on defense down low for the Spurs against players such as Clint Capela. However, on the other end of the court, look for Capela to be isolated by San Antonio with Aldridge and the Spurs big man could get Capela into foul trouble.

Parker played well against Memphis for the Spurs in the prior series but his veteran legs tend to get tired after the first round as they did last year versus Oklahoma City.

Houston’s defense is not that strong and for San Antonio it will be like playing without defenders on the court after the tough matchup the Spurs had in Round 1 against Memphis.

Houston is 2-5 ATS in its past 7 games on the road.

San Antonio is 5-2 ATS in its past 7 games against opponents from the Southwest division.

Prediction: This series should be tight with the home team likely winning on its  court. Lean here towards San Antonio to cover.

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