The Houston Rockets are the fourth-best team in the Southwest division. Keep in mind that there are only five teams in the division. Despite that, Houston has a great chance to make the playoffs this year.
As it sits, the Rockets are in the eighth spot in the Western Conference, so they definitely are not a lock to make the playoffs yet.
Houston has proved that it can keep up with the big boys in the West, having beaten all the top teams in the conference, but that does not mean the rest of its schedule won't be tough.
With that in mind, let's take a look at five roadblocks that are in the way of the Rockets' playoff berth.
The Timberwolves are one game above .500, but they are still only one-and-a-half games behind Houston in the Western Conference.
Not to mention, Minnesota has beaten the Rockets three times already this year, whereas Houston has only won one game in the series.
Luckily for Houston, this season series is over. Minnesota can't hurt Houston directly, but that doesn't mean they still can't knock them out of the playoffs by having a great second half of the season.
Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio have something special in Minnesota, and they will do everything in their power not to miss the playoffs this year.
Just like Minnesota, Portland can't really hurt Houston directly, but you can bet that they will try to make a playoff move at some point in the season.
The Trail Blazers do play Minnesota one more time this season though.
Portland has a very balanced attack, with five players averaging in double-digits in points. In fact, the Trail Blazers have the fifth highest-scoring offense in the league (98.5 PPG).
Don't expect the Mavericks to stay this bad for the whole season. Dallas finally started to get back into the rhythm of things, with six straight victories, but have been 2-6 since.
Dallas may not be the team it was last year, but they are still 22-17 on the season, which is good enough for sixth in the West.
The Rockets and Mavericks have three games head-to-head this season. Those three games could play a big part in deciding who makes the playoffs and who doesn't.
The Denver Nuggets are in seventh place just ahead of the Rockets, with one more win than Houston. If the Nuggets have a really good second half of the season, there's a good chance that they can stay ahead of Houston in the standings.
However, only a half game separates the two teams, so they will probably be neck to neck for the rest of the season.
Houston and Denver will play each other in two crucial matchups during the end of the season. With such a tight race for the eighth spot in the Western Conference, don't be surprised if those games play a huge roll on each team's playoff hopes.
At first glance the Utah Jazz don't really seem like a playoff team, but don't count them out just yet. The Jazz are a very young team and they are only going to get better as the season progresses.
It is true that Utah had a horrible February, going 4-11 on the month. Even with such a bad month, they are only two-and-a-half games back of the eighth spot in the Western Conference.
Utah and Houston only play one more time this season, so that's a plus, but it doesn't mean that the Jazz won't make a playoff run of its own.
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