Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs

Daniel Collins

Written by: Daniel Collins

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The Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs are two of three NBA teams that are located in the state of Texas, and they have developed an intense rivalry through the years. This rivalry is commonly known as the I-10 rivalry, as both Houston and San Antonio are located on interstate 10 in Texas. Both the Rockets and Spurs got their start in the Eastern Conference, but they are both currently members of the Western Conference. San Antonio has been the much better team throughout the years in this rivalry, but the Rockets have had some great success as well. One of the best and most memorable games in this rivalry took place in the 1981 NBA Playoffs. Houston and San Antonio have had some classic postseason games against each other, and they will likely meet again in the playoffs in the upcoming seasons.

History of Rockets and Spurs Rivalry

The Rockets and Spurs began playing against each other in 1976 when the Spurs came into the NBA as an expansion franchise. Houston defeated San Antonio in that first meeting, winning by a score of 125-116. The two rivals have met a total of 215 times through the years, and the Spurs hold a 117-98 lead in the all-time series. The Rockets have been able to get the better of the Spurs in the NBA Playoffs, winning 12 of the 22 meetings between the rivals. The only playoff series that the Spurs have won over the Rockets was in 2017 when San Antonio defeated the Rockets in six games in the Western Conference Semifinals. Perhaps the greatest battles between the Spurs and Rockets took place in the mid 1990’s when Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson squared off in a battle of the two best big men in the league.

The Rockets actually got their start in San Diego in 1967 and played in California through the 1971 season. The team was moved to Houston in 1971 and made it to their first NBA Finals during the 1981 season. Houston selected Hakeem Olajuwon in the 1984 NBA Draft and paired with Ralph Sampson the duo led the Rockets to the NBA Finals in 1986. When Michael Jordan briefly retired from the NBA in the mid-90’s, the Rockets were able to take advantage of an opportunity and win their only two NBA Championships in team history. The Rockets were the top overall seed in the Western Conference a season ago, but they lost a tough seven-game series to the Golden State Warriors. Houston is trying to replicate the success of their rival in San Antonio but they haven’t been able to beat the odds to win any titles since 1995.

The Spurs can trace their history back to the 1967 season when the Dallas Chaparrals got their start in the ABA. The team moved to San Antonio in 1973 and the nickname was changed to the Spurs. The Spurs joined the NBA in 1976 as one of four expansion teams and the rivalry with the Rockets was formed. San Antonio was originally considered a small market, but the team was routinely at the top of the NBA in terms of attendance from the very beginning. George Gervin led the Spurs from 1976-1985 and they were perennial playoff contenders. David Robinson and Tim Duncan formed one of the best big men combinations in NBA history, and they were a nightmare to deal with in the Western Conference. Head coach Gregg Popovich will go down as one of the best coaches in NBA history and has led the team to five NBA Championships.

Head to Head Comparison of Rockets vs. Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs have been able to hang more banners in the rafters than their in-state rival, but the Rockets have had some periods of great success as well. The Rockets won back-to-back NBA Championships in 1994 and 1995 for their only two championships in franchise history. The Spurs have won five NBA Championships, with all of them coming since the 1999 season. San Antonio has won a whopping 22 division titles in the history of their franchise, while the Rockets have been able to win just six. The Rockets were division champions in 2018, and they are a popular pick to repeat again this season. San Antonio has retired eight jersey numbers, and the Rockets have retired just six. The Rockets and Spurs are often the preseason prediction to win the Western Conference, and these two teams aren’t going away anytime soon.

Glance at the Last 20 Games Between Rockets and Spurs

The Spurs and Rockets have played each other a ton of times in recent years between regular season and playoff meetings. Taking a look back at the last 20 games between the Spurs and Rockets should help us make predictions for what is going to happen in the future. The Spurs have gone 12-8 in the last 20 games against the Rockets, which go back to January 2, 2016. San Antonio has taken advantage of their home games in this rivalry, winning 7 of the 11 games played at home. The Spurs have also done plenty of damage on the road, going 5-4 against the Rockets in games played in Houston. San Antonio has been the much better team throughout the history of this rivalry, and that was the case over the last 20 games as well.

Detailed Series Splits For Rockets/Spurs Rivalry

Winning the game is the ultimate goal in the NBA, but that doesn’t always tell the whole story when it comes to betting predictions. The Spurs were the correct “moneyline” pick 12 out of the last 20 times, but they weren’t always the right team to bet on. Both the Spurs and Rockets were the betting favorite 10 times in the last 20 games. Each team managed to go 6-4 against the spread when they were the favorites, making the favorite team the correct pick for 12 of the last 20 games. In terms of over/under or “total” betting, the last 20 games can give us some scoring trends for this rivalry. The Rockets and Spurs had one “push” in the last 20 games when the point total was set at 222. The two teams went over the point total in eight games, while the under hit the other 11 times. If you are making betting predictions for this rivalry going forward, the team that is favored to win and the under seem to be the best picks.