Through four games, the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets are tied at two apiece, as it has become a three-game series. It has been a see-saw battle, with the Rockets dominating Games 1 and 4 and the Spurs returning the favor in Games 2 and 3. With the way the momentum has shifted throughout the series, Game 5 has become very unpredictable.

Injury report

Both teams have lost a key player in this series. Tony Parker suffered a quadriceps injury in Game 2 and is done for the playoffs, while Nene Hilario tore a groin muscle, which will keep him out for the entire post-season as well.

Parker was having a solid playoff run, averaging 16 points per game after an inconsistent regular season. Meanwhile, Nene had been a steady contributor off the bench for the Rockets. Both players are a huge loss for each team.

Controlling the pace

The pace has been the biggest deciding factor of this series. When the pace is fast, it benefits the Rockets because they are able to space the floor with shooters to find quality shots. When the pace is slow, the Spurs are able to set their defense and physically overwhelm the Rockets. San Antonio cannot play fast because they are an older team that is most effective in half-court sets. However, Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system is designed for quick-hitting points in transition, even if it means jacking up a lot of threes.

In Games 2 and 3, the Spurs were doing an excellent job of getting back in transition, which allowed them to slow the game down. In Games 1 and 4, they weren’t too focused defensively, allowing easy baskets in the fast break. Being back at home to play a crucial Game 5, San Antonio should be able to retain their focus to control the pace.

Three-point differential

In Game 4, the Spurs did not protect the three-point line too well again. Just like Game 1, they allowed the Rockets to find plenty of shots from the perimeter. The Rockets were a plus-36 from three-point distance, which made the biggest difference in the game. After allowing plenty of threes in Game 1, the Spurs made the appropriate adjustments and protected the three-point line in Game 2.

Gregg Popovich will surely make the correct adjustments again to bounce back after a horrible Game 4.

Most of this series has been unpredictable, with each team winning one game on the road. It’s been filled with unexpected blowouts and performances. Game 5 promises to be the same. The game will take place in San Antonio at the AT&T Center at 8 pm Eastern Time on TNT.