The 2016 - 2017 Houston Rockets can become just the third team in NBA history to lose only a single game playing with no rest on the second night of a back-to-back.
13 wins and 1 loss: That’s Houston’s impressive record on the second night of back-to-back games.
It’s a paradigm breaking reality. Houston is fourth in the league in pace, James Harden is 7th in the league in minutes per game and the Rockets stretch ten men deep on only the most hospitable of evenings. And before the All-Star break Houston was tied for most games played, 58, and most back-to-backs played, 13.
A look back: Rockets lead league in back-to-backs played and won — The Dream Shake
Despite these taxing conditions and self-inflicted fatigue Houston hosts an unexpected and historic win percentage in games played without rest.
Thanks to Basketball-Reference.com for fielding some emails and providing this list sorted by win percentage:
All-Time Leaders Playing With No Rest
No team in the modern era has gone an entire season undefeated when playing without a day of rest. This puts Houston in position to match the 15 - 1 mark of the 2013 Heat (NBA Champions) and the 2007 Mavericks (one seed which lost to the eight seed).
Matching the mark will require a victory in both of their remaining games with no rest. And man are they some easy peezey games:
March 31st: At Golden State Warriors
The NBA schedule kicks the red and yellow boys into Oracle Arena where the Golden State Warriors will be looking to put their foot down. The night before Houston laces up in Oakland, the Portland Trail Blazers will try to give James Harden the boot in a match up that pits offensive powers toe-to-toe.
Also, Draymond Green will probably try to kick James Harden in the face. If you weren’t following along.
April 10th: At Los Angeles Clippers
If the Rockets grit out a win against the Warriors then the right to enter the barely known NBA pantheon of ‘playing with no rest’ will come down to this game. Houston plays in Sacramento the previous evening and this will be the second-to-last game of the season for both teams. Meaning there’s no telling what compliment of superstars will or will not be available.
History never comes easy, but the Rockets have their chance. On the party scale from “21st birthday party blowout” to the more tempered “inviting friends over after adopting a second cat party” the Rockets achieving this feat will probably register at “joint office birthday party.” There’s going to be a ton of people there. Lots of folks will be thanked for organizing the party, but in reality you’re all going straight back to your cubicle to answer emails about your time sheet from.
Perhaps the Minnesota Timberwolves will put a plaque up in the Target Center recognizing their 119 - 105 win over the Rockets in January. Played after a narrow Houston win over Charlotte and a flight to Minnesota, it’s the Rockets only loss on no rest so far this season.