Houston (52-14) are the first team in the West to secure a spot in the postseason, wrapping up their berth with a 105-82 rout of the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night for their 18th win in 19 games. All-Star James Harden, also the MVP frontrunner, sat out to rest a sore left knee, but it mattered little against one of the worst teams in the league as Eric Gordon scored 26 points and Chris Paul added 24 and 12 assists.
The Rockets need just seven wins in their last 16 games to set a single-season franchise record for victories, and they have fared well against Southwest Division rivals, winning eight of the last nine such games and compiling a 9-3 record overall.
San Antonio (37-29) have dropped back-to-back games and ten of their last 13 overall after a 104-94 loss at Oklahoma City on Saturday night. The starting five shot just 17 of 47 and accounted for 40 points, with LaMarcus Aldridge the only one of the quintet in double figures with 11 points.
The recent slide has put the Spurs in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time 1997, when they went 20-62 and won the draft lottery and selected Tim Duncan that summer to alter the course of the franchise.
The current franchise player, Kawhi Leonard, will not play in this game, but the Spurs are hoping he will be available for Tuesday's contest against Orlando that starts what could be a make-or-break six-game home stand.
Houston have won both games between the teams this season after winning just two of the previous 11 meetings.