Friday the 13th is unlucky for some, but in the end, it will be sweet for one of these two teams in the Western Conference fighting for a playoff bid. The Phoenix Suns will take on the Houston Rockets in a key playoff showdown.
If the Suns are going to get into the playoffs, this is the type of game that they are going to have to win down the stretch. They are two games back with just eight to play, and losing this one would really just about remove any reasonable possibility to catch the Rockets for one of the last few postseason spots. The team is still in reasonable form right now, having won five out of seven. Sure, the most recent game was a loss against the Memphis Grizzlies on the road, a loss with no shame attached to it, especially knowing how many games have been played on the road over the course of the first two weeks of this month. The offense is generally flying high at the moment, scoring at least 107 points in four of the last six games, and that is going to be the key if Phoenix is going to make the second season. Shannon Brown is definitely playing like a man on a mission. He has put together at least 17 points in four straight games, raising his scoring average up to 10.6 points per game on the campaign.
There are only two games separating the Rockets from the No. 5 seed in the West, but there are just 1.5 games between them and missing the playoffs. They definitely aren’t shoe-ins at this point, and there is plenty of work that needs to be done to get into the second season. It is amazing to think that Houston has just about survived this barrage of injuries that hit their backcourt. Kevin Martin is still out of the fold, and the amazing part about all of this is that Head Coach Kevin McHale continues to go with the same starting five that has been playing so well in spite of the fact that he has a team that is getting healthy. All sorts of credit needs to be given to both Courtney Lee and Goran Dragic, both of which aren’t really starting guard material in the NBA. Both have led this team in a big time way, and if Houston makes the playoffs, these are the two that need to be thanked for their yeoman’s efforts.
The Final Word: Both of these teams are playing well right now, but we are going to back the hosts. The Rockets seem to be one of these massively underappreciated teams night in and night out, and we think that they are going to get the job done to put what should be an insurmountable distance between themselves and another one of the contenders at the bottom of the Western Conference playoff chase.
Phoenix Suns @ Houston Rockets Free Pick: Houston Rockets -4
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.