This is the final game that Houston can win without making most Rockets fans a little sad.
The Brooklyn Nets are 40-38 and locked into the play-in tournament. They are currently tied in the loss column with the ninth seed Charlotte Hornets, but the Hornets won the season series and thus hold the tiebreaker. They sit one game behind the Atlanta Hawks, and do hold the tiebreaker there. Finally, the Nets sit two losses behind Cleveland and hold the tiebreaker over the struggling Cavs. There are too many multi-team tiebreakers at play, so I’m avoid those for now.
With Houston owning Brooklyn’s first round pick, the best-case scenario for the Rockets would be for the Nets to lose in the play-in tournament. If the Nets finish in ninth or tenth place, they will need to win two games (with at least one on the road) to clinch the eighth playoff spot. If they lose, they fall into the lottery. And though their pick would be unlikely to jump into the lottery, it would give Houston a second top-14 pick to use in the upcoming draft. As we’ve seen, Rafael Stone did some excellent work with the draft in his first year in charge.
Therefore, winning tonight might be okay, even if it would lock Houston into the second-best lottery odds (Orlando isn’t winning again). With that said, few think that Houston is capable of the upset and the season sweep of the Nets.
As of this writing, the Rockets are 17.5-point underdogs to the Nets on DraftKings. With Houston being okay with losing, resting key rotation pieces, and playing on the road against a desperate team, 17.5 points might even be too low. Still, the backdoor cover is always in play with a spread that large.
Most Houston fans are more invested in Jalen Green’s 30-point streak. Pretty impressive for a rookie that 90% of NBA fans thought was a bust in early January.
Tip-off is at 6:30pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest