The Houston Rockets have an opportunity in tonight's contest vs Clippers

Can Jalen Green lead the Houston Rockets to victory tonight?
Can Jalen Green lead the Houston Rockets to victory tonight? / Tim Warner/GettyImages

Time flies when you're having fun. Fans of the Houston Rockets finally got to experience that shift in tempo in 2023-24. This team turned in a fun season after three years of suffering.

Tonight, it comes to an end. The Rockets play the LA Clippers on the road in their last contest of the year. The stakes are low:

Unless you're counting moral victories.

Houston Rockets can reach milestone

As it stands, the Rockets are 40-41. You don't need a pure math doctorate to figure this out. If they win tonight, they'll be .500.

Does it matter? Hardly. A 40-42 season, after the last three years, means almost as much as 41-41. Still, it's something to play for.

That's more than the Clippers can say tonight.

Houston Rockets opponent are locked into position

The Clippers are fourth in the Western Conference standings at 51-30. Below them are the Dallas Mavericks at 50-31. If the Clippers won tonight, and Dallas won their first game, the seeding wouldn't change. The Clippers won their season series with the Mavericks.

in other words, this game means nothing of any tangible value to the Clippers. They know they'll be without Kawhi Leonard, and James Harden is listed as questionable. Don't be surprised if the former Rocket takes a seat to rest for the postseason.

Sure, the Clippers may want to win this game to maintain rhythm. It still holds that there are no consequences for them tonight. The Rockets may be out of the playoff picture, but finishing .500 is still an incentive to give their best performance.

Does that mean they can score a win over the Clippers?

Houston Rockets will still be underdogs

Perhaps. It's worth noting that the Rockets have lost all three of their games against the Clippers so far this season. That's no surprise - the contending Clippers are supposed to have the upstart Rockets' number.

If the Rockets are going to win tonight, they'll need the best version of Jalen Green to be available. He was woeful against the Utah Jazz two games ago and bounced back against the Portland Trail Blazers.

That's been a theme for Green in 2023-24. He's been plagued by inconsistency. With Alperen Sengun rehabilitating for the rest of the year, the Rockets need their most dynamic offensive player to step up.

Otherwise, they'll finish below .500. for the fourth consecutive season.