The San Antonio Spurs regained home-court advantage on Friday after using strong defense and a major performance from LaMarcus Aldridge to defeat the Houston Rockets. Since the first game, San Antonio’s defense has been smothering, frustrating the Rockets into poor shots and turnovers. Although offensively the Spurs weren’t taking care of the ball in Game 3, they managed to overcome 20 turnovers to win.

LaMarcus Aldridge must continue his offensive dominance

With Tony Parker out, someone else had to step up for the Spurs to fill his void, and LaMarcus Aldridge answered the call in Game 3, scoring 26 points on 12-of-20 shooting.

He also added seven rebounds and four blocks to pace the Spurs to a 103-92 victory. San Antonio needs another strong effort from the big man, who is the team’s second best player behind Kawhi Leonard and should be producing at a high level.

The Spurs will take care of the ball better

The scary part for Houston is that they still lost Friday night despite the Spurs committing 20 turnovers. Obviously, they will not have as many miscues in Game 4, which should frighten the Rockets because if the Spurs take better care of the ball, they could completely thrash them.

Rockets must shoot better from the field

The Spurs defense has been so suffocating that they held Houston’s potent offense to 92 points on 36 percent shooting.

The Rockets need to move the ball around like they did in Game 1 to shuffle the Spurs defense to find quality shots. Otherwise, they are going to be in for another long night.

The pace of the game

The most important factor is the pace of the game. A slower pace favors the Spurs, while a faster pace favors the Rockets. However, the last two games, the game has been at a slower pace, which has benefitted the Spurs.

In order for the Rockets to speed up the tempo, they must push the ball on makes and misses just like they did in Game 1.

Ultimately, the pace will be the determining factor of the final outcome. It seems like Houston’s offense is at its best when they get out in transition and swing the ball around the perimeter. On the contrary, San Antonio’s transition defense has been magnificent, not allowing the Rockets to get many fast-break points.

Whether they make a shot or not, all five Spurs players are making a conscious effort to run back on defense instead of chasing offensive rebounds. Gregg Popovich tweaking his lineup by inserting Pau Gasol in place of David Lee has also helped the Spurs maintain the pace because they are playing a bigger lineup.

It would be interesting to see if the Spurs are determined enough to take another game in Houston to take a commanding 3-1 series lead with the possibility of closing it out at home in Game 5. Game 4 is set to tipoff at 9:30 pm Eastern Time on TNT.