Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Spurs reach Western Conference finals with rout of Houston

Spurs reach Western Conference finals with rout of Houston

Jonathon Simmons scored 18 points in place of Leonard, but the MVP candidate's return is likely a necessity in order for San Antonio to compete with the Golden State juggernaut.

Per ESPN Stats & Information, the Spurs were 8.5-point underdogs against the Rockets on Thursday night, the second-largest underdog they've been in 268 playoff games under Gregg Popovich. Popovich made a decision to sit Leonard despite the two-way star's insistence on playing, and the extra days of rest seem to have done Leonard some good here.

For five games there was no telling who would take the Western Conference Semifinal series between the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets.

The Rockets had been 3-0 against San Antonio in postseason series, winning in the first round in 1980, the conference semifinals in 1981, and the conference finals in 1995. Trevor Ariza paced Houston with 20 points, and Clint Capela had 15 points and 12 boards.

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When the Spurs opened the second half with an 8-1 burst sparked by six points from Aldridge, the advantage ballooned to 26 points.

Despite Leonard's absence, the Spurs throttled Houston 114-75 in Game 6 at the Toyota Center to advance to their first Western Conference Finals since 2014. He was also held scoreless and turned the ball over three times in the overtime period of Game 5.

"I feel really bad for them that it ended this way", D'Antoni said, "because they did not deserve this". "'Hey, you're nicked up a little bit, don't play, '" said D'Antoni. May.

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