The Houston Rockets have almost recovered from an extremely poor start to the season. Can they salvage it and come out with the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference?
It seemed like just the other day that the Houston Rockets were all the way down in the No. 15 seed in the West and the season was looking lost. They were 11-14 and only better than the Suns in the Conference and the injuries were piling up.
Thankfully, James Harden (along with some great signings by Daryl Morey and Co.) saved the year by going on a historical run of scoring. They have worked all the way back to the No. 3 seed and have a chance to catch No. 2 in the standings if certain factors happen.
Let’s take a look at the remaining schedule for both the Rockets and the Nuggets as we hope they can switch spots in the last 12 games.
The Houston Rockets have all the opportunity in the world to finish the season strong. They play 7 of their remaining 12 games against teams under .500 (though Sacramento is flirting with that) and it’s entirely possible and winnable games against the others.
The over/under win total for Houston coming into the season was 55.5 wins. They currently sit at 44 wins. The Rockets would have to win out for that to hit, for those of you that may be invested in that.
Here are the 12 games: @ATL, @MEM, vs. SAS, @NOP, @MIL, vs. DEN, vs. SAC, @SAC, @LAC, vs. NYK, vs. PHX, @OKC
The Nuggets game provides the Rockets a great opportunity to cut into the 3 game deficit. That’s pretty much a must-win for Houston if they want the No. 2 seed. Besides that, the Bucks and Thunder games should be pretty fun, and the Spurs are on fire recently.
The Denver Nuggets are just 6-4 in their last 10 games and are currently leading the Celtics as I’m writing this article. They’ve dropped some games recently and have a pretty tough schedule to finish the year.
One advantage that they have over Houston is that they have two more games than the Rockets and are actually 4 games up on them in the standings in the loss column alone.
Here are their remaining games: @BOS (in progress), @WAS, @NYK, @IND, vs. DET, @HOU, @OKC, vs. WAS, @GSW, vs. SAS, vs. POR, @POR, @UTA, vs. MIN
10 of those games are against teams over .500, double the number that the Rockets have to deal with to end the season. The games against Portland will be tough as they battle for position too, and games against the Warriors and Thunder are never easy, of course.
Scenario for the 3 seed
If the Rockets win against the Nuggets, they will have the tiebreaker against them. Winning 10 of the last 12 games for Houston puts them at 54-28 to end the season, a respectable enough number to get the No. 2 seed.
In that scenario, the Nuggets would have to finish the year 8-6 to equal that 54-28 record. The more the Rockets win, obviously, the fewer times the Nuggets have to lose.
If they can drop this game right now to Boston, that’d be great (they now trail!). Teams like Indy, Detroit, Houston, OKC, Golden State, San Antonio, Portland and Utah are great opportunities to get the five more after that.
Let me know if my math is wrong somewhere, but the Rockets have a serious chance to catch the Nuggets by the end of the season! Let’s hope we keep winning.