We've long since passed the "This is the biggest game of the season!" story angle for the Rockets. Every game is the biggest game now. Frankly, Houston needs to win out and there's really very little alternative if they want to make the playoffs.
Tonight's game is more important than the next 4 though, because it could count double. Houston already lost out on a chance to hold the tiebreaker against the Jazz (Houston will still hold the conference record over Utah). Tonight, they could take a 3-1 series win over the Dallas Mavericks and guarantee the tiebreaker there (though Houston's division record is better than Dallas's).
Both Dallas and Houston are looking to not only make the playoffs but avoid the Golden State Warriors in the first round. With Utah's loss last night both teams have to feel like they're in the driver's seat to avoid the champs if they can keep winning. Houston won a huge game over the OKC Thunder on Sunday and the Mavericks are currently riding a 4-game winning streak.
Houston's four games after Dallas are against 4 teams that are out of the playoffs and will have little to play for. Dallas will play a decimated Memphis team, a Clippers team that is set in fourth place, the desperate Jazz, and a San Antonio team that will have nothing to play for to end the season. So a loss tonight for either team will make the waiting game even worse since the other team will have a handful of games against teams that won't necessarily be trying.
Tip-off is at 8:30pm Central on ESPN.
Rockets vs Mavericks coverage