The Houston Rockets fell to the Denver Nuggets, ending a feel-good three game win streak. The Nuggets move to 19-3 in Denver, tied (With OKC) for the best home record in the league. The Rockets played a competitive game for thirty-five minutes leading by eight with one minute left in the third period. The Nuggets then rattled off a 19-1 run that lasted the next five game minutes, and Houston never recovered.
Houston currently owns a 25-22 record and would be the 8th seed in the Western Conference if the playoffs started today. As previous years have shown, the West’s playoff race is often extremely tight, and the Rockets are far from certain to avoid a fourth consecutive trip to the lottery. The Rockets’ chances of making the playoffs are primarily a function of two factors: Houston’s own performance and that of its Western Conference peers. What follows is an analysis of these two factors and an attempt to provide a clearer picture of Houston’s playoff hopes.
One of the league’s premier players, Rajon Rondo, will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. This signifies a huge shift in franchise prospectus for a handful of teams; now that the Celtics, already struggling for the East’s final playoff spot, have lost their most important piece, they’ve become a major factor in trade-scenarios.