When Gregg Popovich announced that MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard would miss Game 6 against the Rockets, Vegas shifted the line to make Houston a 7.5-point favorite to win and force a Game 7. James Harden, who had one of the best individual seasons in NBA history was now the clear star on the floor in a decisive playoff game against a Spurs team missing its best player, alongside veteran point guard Tony Parker.
By halftime, the Spurs had run out to a 19-point lead, leaving Mike D’Antoni, Harden, and the Rockets searching for answers heading into the final half of their season. Those answers could not be found in the Toyota Center, as the Rockets fans watched as San Antonio bludgeoned Houston in one of the all-time worst playoff losses at home in NBA history. Against a team without its top star, Houston lost by 39 in an elimination game at home, as Harden went out with a whimper going 2-for-11 from the field for 10 points.
LaMarcus Aldridge, who was questioned early in the series, dominated with 34 points and 12 rebounds as he picked apart the Rockets’ efforts to go small with Nene sidelined with a tear in his groin. Jonathan Simmons had 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting in Kawhi’s place in the lineup as the Spurs completely decimated the Rockets.