Houston is currently seventh in the Western Conference and holds a 3 1/2 game advantage over the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite having a game in hand over the Lakers, a win when hosting the Pacers on Wednesday will be vital if the Rockets are to make the post-season for the first time since 2008-09.
The Rockets face a tough stretch to close out March — Houston must also tackle Memphis Grizzlies on the road before facing the Los Angeles Clippers at home. April will be slightly easier with facing the likes of Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns (x2) and Portland Trailblazers scheduled. However, a rough finish to the month would threaten the team’s momentum (8-3 in March) heading into the final stretch of the season.
One key factor in Houston’s preparation for Indiana will be Pacers’ center Roy Hibbert. Omer Asik will have to stay out of foul trouble to counter Hibbert’s presence in the paint and although Hibbert hasn’t nearly had the season many expected after signing a huge off-season contract, the 7-foot-2, 280-pound big man has been strong in the Pacers’ past two outings, going for 18 points and 12 rebounds against Chicago Bulls and 17 and 13 against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday.
As always, Houston will be asking a lot from star James Harden — last week’s Western Conference Player of the Week — after averaging 30.8 points, 10.0 assists, 8.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.0 blocks in three wins for the Rockets.
Robert White covers the Houston Rockets for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @RobertWhitebrrr.