To borrow a phrase from English soccer commentators, it’s “squeaky bum” time for the Rockets in their quest to snag the eighth and final spot in the playoffs. Every game from here on out qualifies as “must win” and with a packed schedule this week, the playoff picture should be much clearer this time next week.
In practical terms, our rooting interests remain pro-Rocket but have shifted to an anti-Hornets stance. The Grizzlies just keep winning, and with a much more favorable schedule than New Orleans from here on out, our chances of slipping past them don’t look good. Here’s what on tap this week:
Tonight: Hawks at Rockets
I feel comfortable labeling Atlanta as overrated. That doesn’t make them less dangerous, but the set-up favors the Rockets. Our form is sparkling, the game is at home, and Atlanta is woeful against over .500 teams. If this squad is serious about the playoffs, there’s no margin for error.
Tuesday: Kings at Rockets
Our second game in three days pits us against a lively Kings team strengthened by the return of Tyreke Evans. Another winnable game so long as the Rockets stay focused. For those of an offensive persuasion, this should be a fun one.
Wednesday: Rockets at Hornets
Insert hyperbolic statement of choice here. If the Rockets make the playoffs, they certainly earned it. Our third game in four days – and the business end of a back-to-back – sees us traveling to New Orleans. Simply put, losing is not an option.
Saturday: Clippers at Rockets
The Blake Griffin Ducktacular Traveling Circus rounds out the Rockets week, and presents the third winnable home game. Not an ideal schedule, but all things considered a manageable week. Take care of business and we might find ourselves on the cusp of a playoff birth come Sunday.
New Orleans Hornets
The Hornets face Indiana, Houston, and Phoenix at home this week before an absolutely massive (for the Rockets) trip to Memphis next Sunday. Sans David West, the Pacers and Psycho T could cause some problems. Wednesday is self-explanatory, and the Friday match-up against the Suns should at least be interesting (so long as Phoenix still believes it has a chance). Sunday could decide the Rocket’s season.
Memphis has an easy week with only the Clippers and Kings coming to town before Sunday’s home game against New Orleans. The Grizzlies have notched some big wins recently and are playing solid basketball without the injured Rudy Gay. Barring a serious meltdown, the Rockets aren’t catching this squad so come Sunday we’re all Grizzlies fans.
Everything to play for this week. See you all on the other side!