Spurs set up Warriors meeting as Harden and Rockets crumble


The San Antonio Spurs eased into the Western Conference finals after the Houston Rockets bowed out of the NBA playoffs with a whimper.

LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs showed no mercy against James Harden and the Rockets, who crumbled in a 114-75 demolition on Thursday.

The Rockets were touted as favourites to win game six and force a deciding clash after Kawhi Leonard was ruled out with an ankle injury, but even without the MVP candidate, the Spurs dominated Houston in every aspect for a 4-2 series victory to set up a blockbuster showdown against the Golden State Warriors.

Harden - Houston's own MVP candidate - had an opportunity to shine and, instead, was barely a factor. 

The Rockets guard did not even attempt a shot until he knocked down a three-pointer with just over six minutes remaining in the second quarter.

His trey trimmed the Spurs' lead to 18 points. San Antonio held a 61-42 half-time advantage as Harden had just five points to go with five turnovers and three fouls. 

Harden finished with just 10 points on two-of-11 shooting and had six turnovers before fouling out with 3:15 remaining.

The Spurs led by as many as 28 points in the third quarter as Aldridge played like the superstar he was expected to be when he left the Portland Trail Blazers to join San Antonio in 2015.

Aldridge more than picked up the slack in Leonard's absence. The five-time All-Star led six Spurs scorers in double figures with a season-high 34 points and 12 rebounds. 

The Spurs meet the Warriors in game one of the Conference finals on Sunday.