The Houston Rockets have been playing catch up since the beginning of the season. With a top seed in sight, can they continue to play well and overtake the teams in their way?
The Houston Rockets started the season off very poorly. They immediately got off to a 1-5 start, and that was before injuries kicked in. The chemistry and teamwork just wasn’t there and it reflected in the standings.
The Carmelo Anthony acquisition didn’t go to plan and he was away from the Rockets after playing just 10 games with the team. Thankfully, he was just on a minimum contract. Chris Paul didn’t look like himself and eventually got injured. Clint Capela and Eric Gordon each took stints off with injury.
James Harden has carried the team this season and it is showing in his 36+ points per game average. He’s putting up historical numbers and is once again in the thick of the MVP race for the league.
The Rockets are in the fifth seed in the West and have been for some time now. However, there is an opportunity for them to grab a top-3 seed and with a fully healthy team, it’s entirely possible.
A look at the standings
The Rockets are currently one game back of the Trail Blazers for the No. 4 seed in the conference. Portland will be playing an up-and-down Boston squad tonight and Houston will be heading to Charlotte. Should the teams that are favored to win do so, the Rockets will find themself tied for fourth.
The current No. 3 seed is the OKC Thunder. They are three games up on the Rockets and have one of the toughest remaining schedules in the league. They have lost three of four games going into tomorrow’s matchup with the Sixers. Hopefully, Philly can do us a favor. Besides that, they still have games against some of the toughest teams in the league left.
Why the No. 3 seed is so important
The No. 3 seed is something the Rockets should desperately be shooting for in the last 20ish games of the year. It gives the team the best possible chance to make a serious run in the playoffs like last season.
The Warriors will likely be the No. 1 seed, which would put them in the bracket where they would face the winner of 4 vs. 5. Facing them in the second round is not an ideal situation for the team, though it wouldn’t be the worst thing ever to face them with more rest. Still, an easier path to the Finals starts with Houston getting that No. 3 seed.
The Rockets would probably face the Nuggets in the second round, a team that they’ve had incredible success against in recent years. That’s a team they can handle on their way to the Conference Finals matchup, likely facing the Warriors.
The Rockets don’t have the easiest schedule in the world remaining, so they will have to be focused and prepared, staying healthy and sharp along the way. CP3 has looked much better, and that must continue. The end of the year matchup against the Thunder will be huge, too.