Spurs vs. Rockets: Can San Antonio continue their mastery of Houston?

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs have won all three previous games with the Rockets this season. A win Sunday would not only help Houston avoid a season sweep, but it would also help the Rockets get closer to sixth place in the West.

The Houston Rockets have emerged as not only a likely playoff team this season, but as one of the most dynamic offensive teams in the league. The Rockets lead the NBA in scoring and feature an array of threats, let by James Harden and his nearly 27 points per game.

For more on the story, visit The Dream Shake or Pounding the Rock

The San Antonio Spurs (53-16) are certainly no slouch offensively (they are fourth in the league in scoring, after all), but in three match-ups with the Rockets (38-31) this season, San Antonio has found even more offense. The Spurs have won all three games with Houston this season, averaging 123.3 points per game in those wins. Houston tries to avoid the season sweep as the Rockets host the Spurs at 7 p.m. ET (CSN Houston) on Sunday.

Both teams come into the game looking to solidify playoff positioning. The Spurs have the best record in the Western Conference and lead the Oklahoma City Thunder by 2.5 games. San Antonio has the second-best record in the league behind the Miami Heat.

The Spurs would face the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round if the order of the West standings stays as is, but there's also a chance they could face the Rockets in round one. Houston, seventh in the West, has a 2.5 game lead on the Lakers. If the Rockets fall to No. 8 or the Spurs fall to No. 2, San Antonio-Houston would be the round one match-up.

The Rockets also have a chance to move up to sixth in the West. They trail the Golden State Warriors by one game. The sixth seed in the West will face one of three teams -- the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers or Memphis Grizzlies -- currently jockeying for the third, fourth and fifth spots in the standings.

The Spurs are once again at full strength after star guard Tony Parker returned from a sprained ankle this week. He had 22 points and five assists in his first game back Friday, an overtime win over the Utah Jazz. Parker has averaged 25 points and nine assists per game against the Rockets this season, including a triple-double with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists on Dec. 10.

Manu Ginobili, who is averaging 12.3 points per game, his lowest total since his rookie year, has played well against the Rockets this season. He's averaging 19 points per game against Houston, his highest total against any team in the league that he's played more than one game against, and he's leading a Spurs bench that is averaging 45.7 points per game against the Rockets in those three wins.

The Spurs have been able to beat Houston despite, like most of the league, not being able to contain Harden. Harden has only played in two of the three games, missing one due to injury, but he has averaged 31 points, four rebounds and six assists in those two games.

In the one game Harden missed, Jeremy Lin had a season-high 38 points. He also had seven assists and just two turnovers.

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