Mar 1, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets mascot Clutch runs onto the court before a game against the Detroit Pistons at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
As of March 3rd, the Houston Rockets have a 40-19 record. The last time the Rockets had 40 wins by March 3rd, was in 2007-2008 under Rick Adelman. The 07′-08′ team went 14-6 during the month of March, ultimately finishing with a 55-27 record, but a disappointing first round playoff lost to the Utah Jazz.
Six seasons later and the month of March once again becomes the litmus test for the Rockets.
A litmus test is a question asked of a basketball team that wishes to be NBA Champs, the answer to which would determine whether the the basketball team would proceed with the invitation to the NBA Finals.
The schedule for the month of March has been a cause of concern for myself and every other Rockets fan from the start of of the season. Beating up on the lackluster Detroit Pistons on Saturday was a slightly fulfilling start to the month. On Tuesday the Miami Heat, and (fingers-crossed) a masked LeBron James kick off a 13 game whirlwind of the best and worst the NBA has to offer.
The Rockets fly to Orlando Tuesday night to face Dwight Howard’s first team the Orlando Magic. The Magic are bad, and with Howard, and Orlando native Chandler Parsons back home, a team like the Magic could steal a win.
Then sh*t gets real!
Over a 10 day span the Rockets face off against the NBA elite beginning with the Indiana Pacers, and Portland Trail Blazers at the Toyota Center. Both the Pacers and Trail Blazers are preparing for the Playoffs and are close to having the best records in the NBA.
On March 11th, a return to Oklahoma City, where things didn’t go so well last time, losing 117-86. That was four days after Christmas, Houston was without Patrick Beverley, and the Thunder were without Russell Westbrook. In what could turn out to be Playoffs matchup be prepared for intensity at its highest. The Rockets take a day off, then travel to Chicago to face a Bulls team that has rallied behind center Joakim Noah and gone 9-1 in their last 10 games.
Then the Miami Heat Again! This time in Miami on Sunday, March 16th in front of everyone in the world. No pressure.
Houston gets a slight break with the Utah Jazz, (3/17) and the Minnesota Timberwolves (3/20) at home. The Rockets take off on short two-game road trip against the Cleveland Cavaliers (3/22), and the Charlotte Bobcats (3/24), then back to Houston on March 27th against the Philadelphia 76ers. All three teams should be beating down with ease, especially presuming they are all in full-on tank mode.
Last but not least the thorn in the Rockets side all season the Los Angeles Clippers. All season the Clippers have been dealing out one haymaker after another to the Rockets. The Rockets get to enact revenge at home, and gain some confidence, before the Basketball Gods make the Clippers – Rockets a first round Playoff series.
Houston plays 13 games over the next 26 days. They are 4.5 games out of first place in the Western Conference. Where will the Rockets be 26 days from today?
March Madness indeed.