The Rockets’ playoff seeding is still way up in the air
The Houston Rockets currently own 53 wins with just one game remaining against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, and yet, the Rockets’ playoff seeding in the Western Conference is anything but decided.
As of right now, Houston is the third seed in the West and sits one loss behind the Denver Nuggets for second place. The Rockets are also one loss in front of the Portland Trail Blazers, who sit in fourth.
Houston can still finish anywhere from second through fourth in the West, and here are the scenarios.
First and foremost, it would really behoove the Rockets to win their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder if they want the No. 2 seed.
Let’s say Houston beats Oklahoma City on Tuesday. Its seeding would then depend on the Nuggets’ final two games. In that instance, Denver would have to go 2-0 in order to prevent the Rockets from jumping them. Should the Nuggets even go 1-1, Houston would snatch the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference at the very last minute.
Here is the thing: Even if the Rockets lose to the Thunder, they can still nab the No. 2 seed if the Nuggets lose their final two games, as Houston owns the tiebreaker over Denver.
But what if the Rockets fall to the Thunder and Denver goes 2-0 or 1-1? Well, then, we have to see how the Trail Blazers fare.
If the Blazers win their last two games and Houston loses to OKC in the process, Portland would actually end up grabbing the No. 3 seed and the Rockets would fall to fourth.
However, if Portland so much as loses just one of its final two contests, then Houston would remain in third place.
Let’s remember this: The Rockets’ first-round opponent makes a big difference. For example, you would think Houston would much prefer to play the Los Angeles Clippers than a team like the Thunder or San Antonio Spurs in the opening round.
Obviously, most of that is out of the Rockets’ control, but there are some instances where earning a lower seed might actually be beneficial depending on who you play.
Of course, the biggest thing for Houston will be trying to avoid falling to fourth place, because that would then set up a date with the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the playoffs, and the Rockets would definitely prefer to push that meeting as far down the road as possible.
Should Houston end up fourth, it would probably end up playing the Utah Jazz in the first round, the same Jazz team that was smoked in five games in the second round of last spring’s postseason.
Basically, there is no easy path for James Harden and Co., so all they can really do is focus on the task at hand on Tuesday evening, which is defeating the Thunder, even if that means potentially pushing OKC to seventh in the West, which could then possibly set up a first-round matchup if the Rockets end up with the No. 2 seed.
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