In terms of losses, the Houston Rockets are just as far from the eighth seed as they are from the second seed.
That makes games like tonight, against the 24-47 Atlanta Hawks, so important. The Hawks have dropped their last two contests against the Celtics and Magic and the Rockets cannot afford to drop any game against a team not in the playoff picture.
Other than the reeling Thunder, no team behind Houston is playing poorly. The Spurs are on a 9-game winning streak, the Clippers are 8-2 over their last 10, the Jazz have won four straight and have the easiest schedule remaining, and Portland’s closing schedule isn’t much tougher.
The Hawks and Rockets met just a few weeks ago, with Trae Young scoring a then-career high of 36 points on 12-23 shooting and 8-12 from deep. He was in complete control throughout that game and will be a huge problem that Houston must control tonight. John Collins also had a double-double in that game with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Houston has struggled on the boards all season, and they need to control the glass tonight to win the game.
Tip-off is at 6:30pm CT