The Houston Rockets have officially finished the regular season and will start the playoffs this weekend. What team will they be playing and what seed will they be?
The Houston Rockets finished the season 53-29 with a heartbreaker loss to the OKC Thunder last night. After leading by double-digits for much of the second half, the Thunder came back and a Paul George 3-pointer sunk the Rockets out of controlling their own destiny.
With a win, the Rockets would have clinched the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, even with such a terrible start to the season. Unfortuntately, Houston will be score-watching tonight for what seed and what part of the bracket they will be in to start the postseason on Saturday or Sunday.
The Western Conference seeding is a madhouse right now, so let’s go through a few scenarios to get you ready for tonight’s slate of games. Houston can be the 2, 3 or 4 seed, so we’ll look at how that is possible.
How the Rockets can be No. 2
It’ll take a minor miracle for the Rockets to get that No. 2 spot in the West now. A win last night would have secured it, but the path is much more difficult than that after the loss to the Thunder.
The tanking (and likely resting) Minnesota Timberwolves would have to take down the Denver Nuggets. Denver comes into the game as 11.5 point favorites and shouldn’t have any trouble downing the Wolves.
Our only hope is that we have a repeat of last season when the Timberwolves defeated the Nuggets on the last day of the season. That game had a bit more meaning, unfortunately for the Rockets. If you want to score-watch, that game is at 9:30 tonight.
How the Rockets can be No. 3/4
The more likely option is a loss by the Portland Trail Blazers tonight. They will overtake Houston with a win and stay back in the No. 4 spot with a loss. Their opponent? The ever-scrappy Sacramento Kings.
In this one, thankfully, the Kings should be trying a bit. They are looking to win 40 games for the first time since 2006 and were in the playoff hunt all season long. They aren’t resting their players and their guys have stated how hard they will play and try to win tonight in their last game of the season.
The Blazers narrowly defeated the tanking Lakers last night. Will they be able to withstand a motivated Kings squad? We’ll see tonight, also at 9:30.
Why the Rockets should want the No. 3 seed
I’ve seen mixed opinions around social media on whether or not the Rockets should want a top-3 seed after the loss last night. I think they definitely should be hoping for a loss by the Nuggets and/or Blazers.
First off, putting off the Warriors is the best option. Yes, there is injury risk there with Chris Paul, but you want to have a few series after Golden State as possible. To beat them, Houston will have to give 110% and you don’t want two tough opponents waiting for you after that.
Secondly, the Nuggets are the perfect second round option for the Rockets. Houston has their number and is a great matchup. Whether the team has home court or not, it’s the option that is most beneficial to the Rockets.
Also, getting to the Western Conference Finals sounds cooler than getting to the second round. But that’s not a legitimate reason.