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Houston Rockets Clinch Playoff Berth

Dec 5, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) celebrates with guard Patrick Beverley (2) and forward Sam Dekker (7) after the Rockets defeated the Boston Celtics 107-106 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) celebrates with guard Patrick Beverley (2) and forward Sam Dekker (7) after the Rockets defeated the Boston Celtics 107-106 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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For fifth year in a row, the Houston Rockets will be playing at the end of April with their eyes on May and June.

The Portland Trail Blazers fell to the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night, and that sealed the deal for the Houston Rockets’ playoff berth. Last year, it took up until the very end of the season for the Rockets to claim the 8th seed. The story is different now, with them sitting comfortably with the third best record in the league.

The first step of the journey towards a ring has been taken with the playoffs secured. Now, Houston’s focus should be to finish the regular season with the best record possible, lock in the third seed in the Western Conference, and wait for their opponent.

With the Houston Rockets playing so well thus far, it’s not surprising that they’ll take part in the postseason, but that wasn’t always the case. If you’ll think back to before the season, most pundits predicted they fight for the 8th seed again in 2017.

Bleacher Report’s NBA predictions for this year had Houston headed for the lottery. At 46-21, I think it’s safe to say that things have changed.

"Houston will remain in the playoff race for much of the year, especially with James Harden running the show and looking to another MVP bid. But after an offseason in which plenty of Western Conference teams made substantial strides—whether through summer additions or expected internal improvement—the Rockets didn’t do quite enough to avoid a lottery finish."

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The West has been a tug of war this year, so it’s good to see the Houston Rockets outplaying their peers. If they look over their shoulders, they can see The Utah Jazz, LA Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, and Oklahoma City Thunder fighting to claim the fourth seed.

It’s guaranteed that the Rockets will see the playoffs, but the 3rd seed isn’t a sure thing yet. If they beat the teams that they’re supposed to beat for the remainder of the season, though, that should be a lock as well.

The season is far from over, though, and anything can happen. Obviously, the Rockets won’t lose their spot in the playoffs, but they could lose their home court advantage if they aren’t careful.

Next: 3-on-3: Thinking Hypothetically

Tonight, the Houston Rockets will take on the Los Angeles Lakers at the Toyota Center. Stay tuned to Space City Scoop for postgame analysis and more. It should be an easy win tonight in their first game against the newest Laker, Corey Brewer.

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