Five Reasons the Young Rockets Will Make the Playoffs This Year
A common refrain from teams is that they believe they will be better in April than they are in November. In the case of the Rockets, barring injury, there is no team with greater upside for the rest of the season given their youth and where they came from to start the season. It is also worth noting that their wild inconsistency of winning streaks followed by losing streaks has seemed to abate somewhat, which is another sign of gradual improvement.
2. Soft Schedule
The remaining schedule for the Rockets finds them facing teams with a combined record of 451-444. But when you toss out single games against the Clippers, San Antonio, Indiana, Denver and Utah, that number drops to 265-345. They still have multiple games against potential playoff teams including slumping Golden State and Memphis, plus a single game against the resurgent Lakers. But they also play Minnesota, Sacramento, Portland, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Dallas twice, Orlando twice and Phoenix four times.
1. The Beard
It is difficult to overstate just how remarkable James Harden has been this year. He has been everything the Rockets could ask for and more. More important, he has been shockingly consistent, with only a brief three-game, mid-season drop-off that could come close to being classified as a slump. What's more, there have been games where Harden has clearly imposed his will and pulled out victories (or near-victories, like the game in Miami), something a young team like Houston probably would not have managed without him.