A mere 9 days before the end of the 2015-16 regular season finale the Houston Rockets chances of getting into the NBA playoffs seemed slim to none.
Remarkably entering the game versus the Dallas Mavericks the Rockets had a shot of vaulting up the ladder to 6th, meaning Houston could avoid a first round match versus the Warriors or Spurs. Houston held a 9 point edge and seemed poised to finally do some damage and had 4 lottery teams scheduled to finish the season. Suddenly the lead evaporated and before you could utter ‘inconsistency is the bane of Houston’s existence’ 3 times the Mavericks had erased the Rockets lead and pulled out the victory. If the Dallas game represented the worst loss of the season, then the absolute drubbing the Rockets took at the hands of an undermanned Suns squad was the most embarrassing.
As the Rockets players exited the Toyota Center court to a chorus of boos it appeared the playoffs were out of reach, and the other shoe Red Nation had been waiting to drop had hit the ground with a thud.
What occurred next was unfathomable. Utah who had been on a terror going having gone 10-3, lost in a 2 point squeaker to the Spurs. Next up they hosted a Clippers squad who were resting their stars and inexplicably lost again. Suddenly there was light at the end of the tunnel. By the time Dallas arrived the Jazz still held the eighth seed and just needed to dispense of the Mavericks and the Lakers to retain their playoff berth. But part way through the game Rudy Gobert twisted his ankle in one of the more gruesome incidents of the season. By night’s end the Mavs had won while the Jazz had lost the game, the 8 seed and Gobert who exited the stadium in a walking boot and on crutches.
Meanwhile the Rockets finally beat the teams they were supposed to and went on to secure the 8th and final playoff berth out West.The moral of the story is they play 82 games for a reason and the occurrences of the final 9 days of the season serves to prove that point.
Fans, pundits and arm chair GM’s will no doubt debate the decision of the Rockets to push for the 8 seed. Especially knowing it meant they would face the Warriors and lose their draft pick. For now, we’ll have to put that stew on the back burner and address the matter at hand.
Over the next few days Space City Scoop will provide a series analysis and get you ready for tip off. First up here’s the schedule for the series including the time (all Eastern Standard Time) and which National TV network will carry the game.
For those interested in the full playoff schedule for both conferences, it can be found at nba.com or by clicking this link.
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