Houston Rockets: Home Cookin'

Mar 4, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale reacts against the Los Angeles Clippers in the fourth quarter at the Toyota Center. The Clippers defeated the Rockets 105-103 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Tough home games ahead will make or break their season.

With the Rockets in desperate need of some momentum, losing 8 of their last 11 games, having 6 of their next 7 games at home is certainly welcomed. They've played well at home with a 16-6 mark, but their next 7 games include the Lakers, Mavericks (2x), Grizzlies, and Pacers (all teams that are at least 7 games over .500). The Rockets lead over 9th place Phoenix has slipped to just a 1/2 game, and with Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin still out of the lineup, staying in the 8th spot is going to be a difficult task. It's not just Phoenix nipping at their heels though, Utah, Minnesota, and Portland are also within 2 1/2 games of the 8th seed held by the Rockets. As tough at this home stretch of games is, it gets worse afterwards during their following 9 games. Six of those games are on the road and include games against the Bulls, Lakers, Blazers, Suns, Jazz, Nuggets (2x), and the Mavericks.

Million dollar question, can they survive this stretch and make the playoffs? My gut feeling is no, they will not hold onto their playoff spot. They have just have too many injuries, they're too inconsistent offensively, and they don't rebound or defend well enough on a regular basis. My guess is they'll draft somewhere between 10-12 depending on how the ping pong balls bounce and miss the playoffs for a 3rd straight year.

If there is an upside to missing the playoffs again, they'll possibly have two lottery picks in what's supposed to be a deep draft (their 1st round pick traded to New Jersey is top 14 protected). They'll also have quite a bit of cap space; Morey better get to work.

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