Will the Houston Rockets advance beyond the first round of the playoffs?

With the Houston Rockets’ struggles of late, it’s becoming more and more difficult to envision them making it past the opening round of the playoffs.

The Houston Rockets have struggled mightily of late, as they have lost each of their last four games. What’s worse is the fact that they’ve lost two games against non-contenders such as the Memphis Grizzlies and the Portland Trail Blazers.

What’s even more concerning is the manner in which the Houston Rockets lost their last game on Martin Luther King day. If you recall, the Rockets entered the fourth quarter with a 87-71 point lead before collapsing in the fourth and eventually getting outscored 41-20 in the final period.

During the Rockets four game losing streak, they’ve shot 28.9 percent from downtown, which is a major issue for a Rockets team that leads the league in 3-point attempts annually.

When you add this all up, it’s hard to see the Rockets advancing beyond the first round. This is especially the case considering how they’ve taken a turn for the worse in the Western Conference playoff race, as they once held the second seed and have now dropped to the sixth spot in the West.

The Rockets have a tough slate of opponents coming up and could end up with the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference, which would most likely match them up against the Los Angeles Lakers. This is a matchup in which the Rockets would be outgunned and outmatched, and it’s also something that we just witnessed, as the Rockets lost to the Lakers at home in spite of the absence of Anthony Davis.

Even if the Rockets are able to regroup and go 29-12 over the final 41 games of the year, as they did during the 2018-19 season, we’ve seen too much to expect them to go on a deep playoff run. And if they continue to lose to playoff teams, they’ll certainly finish with the final spot in the Western Conference, which would be a major letdown for a team entering the season with title aspirations.

Even if James Harden shoots his way out of this slump he’s in, which we should all expect, the Rockets still have weaknesses that have gone unaddressed, such as the lack of depth, the lack of size, and the lack of quality defenders. And none of that includes Mike D’Antoni’s questionable rotations, which have been plaguing the Rockets immensely.

MDA could very well be holding back the Rockets, because the depth and size could be addressed by giving more minutes to Isaiah Hartenstein and Chris Clemons, who is currently the Rockets’ best 3-point shooter, which begs the question of why he isn’t playing at all. Hartenstein has already displayed how he is capable of being the backup big that the Rockets haven’t had since Chuck Hayes, although the two are much different types of players.

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Hopefully the Rockets can correct their issues, but at this point it’s hard to envision them making a deep playoff run.

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