Kyle Lowry and the Rockets are sitting pretty in the West right now, but they have a tough slate heading into next weekend's All-Star break.
BY: MICHAEL GUTIERREZ
The second half of February looks to start off on a tough note for the Houston Rockets (16-12). They will face a multitude of challenges as their schedule going into the All-Star break isn’t an easy one.
Starting in the FedEx Forum, the Rockets will spend Valentine’s Day battling the Memphis Grizzlies (14-14) to begin a six-game stretch against respectable NBA adversaries. They also face the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder (21-6) on Wednesday immediately following the Grizzlies game, Philadelphia 76ers (19-9), Minnesota Timberwolves (13-15), and Utah Jazz (14-12) heading in to the All-Star break next weekend.
Both the Grizzlies and Timberwolves are fighting for playoff spots, while OKC, Philly and the Jazz currently own spots if the postseason was to start today.
The Thunder (2-0 this season versus Houston), Timberwolves (2-1), and Grizzlies (1-0) have all gotten the best of the Rockets as far as this seasons’ matchups go. While Houston has yet to play Utah or Philadelphia this season, the Jazz are always tough and currently sit eighth in the West and Philadelphia has been known to give the Rockets fits. Also to be factored in is the two back-to-backs scheduled in the short period of time. After playing at Memphis tonight, the Rockets host the Thunder Wednesday to tip off a five-game homestand before the break.
The bigger game to watch might be against the Wolves on Friday, when Kevin Love makes his way to Houston after being suspended two games for stomping on the head of Luis Scola. Adding the fact that both coaches are going against their former teams, it seems like a rivalry is all too fitting between these two.
This is the Rockets’ opportunity to show they can stay in the playoff hunt while fighting through a tough stretch in their schedule. This is an opportunity to give their fans’ playoff hopes validity. It’s an opportunity for the Rockets to prove the team that was once 3-7 will show its head no more.