James Harden LaMarcus Aldridge
Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden shoots the ball as San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge defends during the first half in Game 1 of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 1, 2017 in San Antonio. Reuters/Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Of the four second-round series in the 2017 NBA Playoffs, only the one between the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs saw the road team steal home-court advantage. The two teams will meet again in Houston on Friday night in a Game 3 that could go either way.

Houston put San Antonio on notice in the series opener, handing the Spurs an embarrassing 27-point loss and proving that they are a real threat to reach the Western Conference Finals. San Antonio came back two nights later with a 25-point win of their own, though the victory was costly. Tony Parker suffered a season-ending quadriceps injury Wednesday night, making the series even more unpredictable.

The Spurs might be able to survive the loss of Parker, considering they no longer rely on him like they once did. The point guard isn't among the top players at his position, posting his lowest scoring and assist totals since his rookie season. Parker’s postseason experience, however, has been evident, and he’s been the team’s second-best player in the 2017 playoffs.

Parker scored 18 points on 61.5 percent shooting in Game 2, and he’s second on the team with 15.9 points per game in the playoffs. The four-time champion has even scored more than LaMarcus Aldridge, who has arguably been the most disappointing player of the entire postseason.

Aldridge was invisible in San Antonio’s Game 1 loss with just four points, and he had his struggles in Game 2 when he missed nine of his 15 shot attempts. The power forward has reached the 20-point mark just once in eight playoff games, and he’s averaging 11 points per game in the Spurs’ three losses.

There’s been speculation that Aldridge might not be completely healthy, possibly dealing with a knee injury. Whatever the case may be, San Antonio probably won’t win Game 3 or the series if things with Aldridge don’t change.

“I definitely have to help out Kawhi (Leonard),” Aldridge said, via the San Antonio Express-News, after Game 2. “I have to take my time down there and make them pay.”

Leonard has certainly done all he can to help the Spurs win in the postseason. He was nearly perfect in Game 2, shooting 13-of-16 for 34 points, continuing his historic efficiency. The forward is averaging 30.3 points on 16.8 shots while committing just 2.3 turnovers per game.

Leonard has even picked up more of a load on the defensive end, guarding James Harden in Game 2. Covered by the NBA’s best perimeter defender for parts of the night, Harden had his worst shooting night of any playoff game in his career, missing 14 of his 17 field goal attempts.

“I just missed shots,” Harden said Tuesday night. “I missed shots. I didn't convert my layups. We knew they were going to come out with some aggressiveness in Game 2.”

Harden scored 20 points in the Game 1 win, but it was his 14 assists that highlighted Houston’s performance. The shooting guard’s supporting cast was deadly from behind the arc as the team made 22 of their 50 three-point attempts. When players like Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza are scoring from long distance, the Rockets are incredibly difficult to beat.

Both Harden and Russell Westbrook put up big numbers in the first round, but Houston advanced past the Oklahoma City Thunder because they gave their MVP candidate more help. That could be the case in the conference semifinals, as well, as Leonard looks to get more out of his teammates, namely his star big man.

Houston is favored by 4.5 points, via OddsShark, and the over/under is 214. If the Rockets can dictate the pace of Game 3 like they did in the series opener, they’ve got a good chance to take a 2-1 lead.

Prediction: Houston over San Antonio, 112-105