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Why The Houston Rockets Will Be Top 3 In The West

The Rockets have one more game before the All-Star break. They face off against the Boston Celtics who are on a seven-game winning streak. The Rockets have dropped two straight games the last on a last-second 30-foot fadeaway at the buzzer. Even with the up and down first half, the Rockets are only four games behind the Clippers with a chance to take the season series in the final matchup post-All-Star game. The schedule and opponents line up for the Houston Rockets to make up ground after the All-Star break.

Houston Rockets only have two back to back games left

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The Rockets have elected to rest Russell Westbrook on back to back nights. Normally the second night but lately it has depended on the opponent. The Rockets especially now need Westbrook on the court. The trades were in large part made because Westbrook operates better with four shooters on the court and Clint Capela did not fit that equation. Westbrook sat out the last game of the Rockets most recent back to back and the Rockets lost by 36 to the Suns. Of course, it wasn’t simple as Westbrook was out that is why they lost but you can tell the difference when he is not there.

To end the season the Rockets only have two back to back games left. The Hornets and Magic in March and the Spurs and Mavericks in April. This should give the Rockets time to locked down the rotation without scheduled games off for Westbrook.

Only 10 out of the remaining 28 are against winning teams.

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Before anyone says it I know this doesn’t guarantee a win because the Rockets tend to play down to the competition. I would still rather face a sub .500 team any day instead of a powerhouse. The Rockets last 28 games they only face a winning team 10 of those games. With the small amount of back to back games left and the strength of schedule(or lack thereof), the Rockets should really make up ground the second half of the season. They still have the Knicks twice, the Wizards and the Pistons who are in full tank mode for the rest of the year. The Rockets have the third easiest schedule out of all Western Conference teams to end the year. The two teams directly in front of them the Jazz and Clippers both have tougher schedules.

Small ball lineup will have time to gel

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Since the trade for Robert Covington, the Rockets are 1-2. Of course one was on a buzzer-beater and the other loss was on the second night of a back to back. Even with the two losses, the small-ball lineup has been working. The Rockets are 10-3 without Capela. Covington has been great since the trade showing his versatility to guard every player on the court. Eric Gordon should be back after the All-Star break and the Rockets will have more time to work out any issues. The main issues are communication since the Rockets are exclusively switching almost every play. Now that the lineup is set hopefully those communication issues will also be solved. The Lakers win was a blueprint of how the Houston Rockets can cause issues for any team in the league.

With the Rockets easier schedule and less back to backs to the season I have the Rockets finishing 57-25 that would be 23-5 after the All-Star break. For the Houston Rockets to make a deep run having home court the first two rounds would make a big difference.

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Lachard Binkley
I am the Director of basketball for Overtime Heroics, a Contributing Writer for Space City Scoop, and a podcast host for Clutch City Control Room. I am also the creator of Rockets For Life. My articles have been featured on Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated, and Apple News.
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