NBA Playoff Picture: Rockets Surge Forward, Become Legitimate Playoff Contender

A funny thing happened on the way to the Rockets being counted out by everyone after losing a heartbreaker to the Spurs: They started winning games. Luis Scola was hurt, and Chase Budinger went down in the last game as well, but that hasn’t stopped the Rockets in the slightest as they went on to win four in a row, including a blowout of the Boston Celtics.

That has elevated their standings quite a bit this week. The Hollinger Playoff Odds system now gives the Rockets a 39.7% chance to eke their way past the Grizzlies or Hornets and into the playoffs. The Western Conference standings look like this:

5) Denver Nuggets 41-29 -
6) Portland Trail Blazers 40-30 -
7) New Orleans Hornets 40-31 -
8) Memphis Grizzlies 38-32 -
9) Houston Rockets 37-34 1.5
10) Phoenix Suns 35-33 2
11) Utah Jazz 36-34 2

The Rockets will be doing more scoreboard watching than playing this week, as they’ll only play two games: hosting Golden State on Wednesday, and traveling to Miami on Sunday. The Hornets will be on a three-game road trip as they play at Utah on Thursday, at Phoenix on Friday, and against the Lakers on Sunday. The Grizzlies will host Utah today, go on the road to face the Celtics and Bulls, and wrap up the week on Sunday against the Spurs.

This could very well be a pivotal week for the Rockets. Both teams in front of them play some brutal games on the road, and none of them are playing teams outside of the playoff race.

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