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Houston Rockets vs. Sacramento Kings game preview

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NBA: Sacramento Kings at Houston Rockets Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets can continue their push towards the third seed in the Western Conference tonight by knocking the Sacramento Kings out of playoff contention. The Kings’ tragic number is down to one, though they have exceeded all expectations this season and will likely be a force in the coming years.

Like all games down the stretch, this one is a must-win for Houston. Thursday’s blowout win reaffirmed what fans have known all season: the Rockets match up well with the Denver Nuggets and need to do everything in their power to see them in the playoffs.

Standing in Houston’s way are the Portland Trail Blazers, who haven’t lost in forever and are in the middle of a 4-game road trip against the dregs of the East. Houston doesn’t hold the tiebreaker over the Blazers and therefore need some help, namely in the form of two Portland losses.

Houston cannot get ahead of themselves, though. The Kings are still scrapping and have nothing to lose by coming into Toyota Center and giving it their all. De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III are the cornerstones of a budding power, and Buddy Hield is a sharpshooter that should absolutely be covered at all times. Willie Cauley-Stein and Harrison Barnes have been around long enough and know their roles.

With all that said, Houston should win this game before getting two days off before heading to...Sacramento, to take on the Kings once again. It’s not a true home-and-home since the Kings head to San Antonio tomorrow to take on the Spurs before heading back to California.

Tip-off is at 5pm CT