This is a very important week for the respective MVP and ‘have as pretty of a record’ races, with tough to impossible games littering the schedule, especially without Ryan Anderson. Don’t feel bad if the Rockets go 1-3 this week, or even 0-4. I’ll have to miss that Friday game as I’ll be on a plane to New York.
Houston has now opened up a seven game lead in the loss column on the fourth seed, up from the five game lead they held this time last week. Barring some sort of acquisition of Corey Brewer, Josh Smith, and Ty Lawson, the Houston Rockets will be the third seed. They are not blowing this. Even without Ryan Anderson. (I hope).
The big question to me right now revolves around rest. The injury to Ryan Anderson has two important consequences: 1) it increases the attractiveness of resting major pieces and 2) it decreases the likelihood of 60 wins. 60 wins is still on the table, and this team is capable of ripping off ten straight to close out the season. I also think that’s a goal considered desirable by both James Harden (given his nature) and Mike D’Antoni (given his recent statement regarding the meaninglessness of the 50 win accomplishment).
With the third seed basically locked up, here’s what I do: I play everyone until the team loses. The first loss is when 60 wins is off the table. After that, there’s no distinction between 56, 57, or 58, as long as they go at least 5-5 or whatever to lock up the third seed. So for instance, if the Rockets lose on Thursday at Portland, that’s the point when I start resting guys on alternate nights to begin preparing for the playoffs. I don’t just sit everyone, because I still need a few wins to clinch third.
But James Harden’s live MVP race complicates matters. I don’t think he will allow you to sit him more than one game, if even that.