Well, since the Houston Rockets screwed the proverbial pooch last night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, we’re really no closer to a solution for Houston’s playoff seeding than when I broke things down earlier in the week.
The Rockets can still technically finish anywhere from the two-seed through the four-seed. If the Denver Nuggets lose to the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Portland Trail Blazers lose to the Sacramento Kings, the Rockets will still grab the two-seed.
If the Nuggets win and the Blazers lose, the Rockets stay in third place. However, if both Portland and Denver win, the Rockets will fall all the way down the fourth seed, which is notable, because that moves any potential playoff matchup with the Golden State Warriors out of the Western Conference Finals and into the second round.
Oh, and by the way, Damian Lillard is out tonight for Portland, along with CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, of course.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are OUT tonight vs the Sacramento Kings due to load management. Looks like they'd be content with losing. If they lose, the #Rockets would slide into the 3 seed, likely facing OKC in the first round. If Denver loses, Houston slides to the 2 seed.— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) April 10, 2019
Not to be outdone, the Wolves will be without practically their entire team tonight against Denver.
#Twolves injury report for tonight's game at Denver:— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) April 10, 2019
Bayless, Covington, Deng, Rose, Teague are all OUT. Gibson and Towns are both DOUBTFUL.
So at least on paper, it appears that a very likely scenario is that the Nuggets win and the Blazers lose, keeping Houston at the three-seed and matching up with the Thunder in round one, but holds off a possible Dubs series until the West Finals.
A jump to second puts them against the Spurs in the first round and Golden State to close out the West, while a slippage to fourth likely gets them the Jazz in round one (but again, the Warriors in round two).
Obviously the optimum scenario from an overall matchup standpoint is the two seed, but after that, it’s a total crap shoot between the path as a three and the path as a four.
Either way, it’s going to take 12 to win the West, there are no truly easy series, and Houston will have their work cut out for them coming out of a very difficult Western Conference.