It's a simple formula.
If the Rockets lose AND the Jazz win, Utah is the 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
In the first scenario, the Rockets would play the Golden State Warriors, a team likely to set the record for best regular season record tonight. If the second scenario occurs, the Rockets would receive their first round draft pick instead of surrendering it to the Denver Nuggets. That pick will be in the 12-14 range, I believe.
By now you've probably heard that the Sacramento Kings have shut down five players: DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Darren Collison, Omri Casspi, and Marco Belinelli. You've also probably heard that Jazz fans are a bit salty about that decision. Meanwhile, they'll be playing a Lakers team that will try to get Kobe enough shots to break Wilt Chamberlain's record of 100 points in a game.
Anyway, Houston will still have to deal with Rudy Gay, Seth Curry, Ben McLemore, and Rocket Killer James Anderson. Oh, and my brothers' favorite non-Rocket Quincy Acy. Seriously, they love that guy.
With the game in Toyota Center and Sacramento's decision to rest five of its six leading scorers, Houston has no excuses to not absolutely crush an opponent for the third game in a row. Should Houston lose, Les Alexander will almost certainly start a FIRE...sale. Next year's team is already unlikely to look like this year's iteration, but it could look completely different if things go poorly tonight.
I want to say that I've had an absolute blast writing these previews once again this season. I'm sorry that the previews lost their analysis as the season went on but due to personal reasons and the Rockets' inconsistency it became difficult to keep doing matchups. Thank you to the incredible writers at The Dream Shake for covering for me when life got in the way and more than anything else, thank you to everyone who read my ramblings this season. The fact that you've put up with me means the world.
Oh, and for nostalgia's sake, my first-ever game preview was a Rockets-Kings game preview. Please forgive the terrible writing. It was 2010. Things were different.
Tip-off is at 7pm Central time.
Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Lakers tip-off is at 9:30pm Central time on ESPN2.
Kings vs Rockets coverage