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Houston Rockets Secure Playoff Birth

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 13:  Yao Ming #11 of the Houston Rockets rests oncourt against the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 13, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Jeff ShullAnalyst IApril 6, 2009

With a win against Portland and a Phoenix loss to Dallas, the Houston Rockets have secured their spot in the Western Conference Playoffs.

Which spot will be up to them.

As the season winds down, it has to be a relief for the Rockets to have extended their season, what with all the injuries and in-house problems surrounding the McGrady soap opera they have had to put up with.

With the final two home court advantage spots up for grabs, one of them has to be in the Rockets' cross-hairs.

It is hard to make a case against Rick Adelman for Coach of the Year. Seeing how much he has had to deal with makes any fan of basketball wonder how in the world he won 50 games (assuming the Rockets don't go 0-5 down the stretch).

The Rockets have 31 wins in Toyota Center this season, already a record for the young building. However, they have struggled mightily on the road, posting an 18-20 record.

If the Rockets want to have any shot of making it past the first round, it would appear they need to secure one of the top four seeds.

While Denver does not have their spot at No. 2 sealed up yet, they are two games ahead of  the Spurs and have won seven in a row. 

One problem with this season is, while it's fun to watch the Rockets having much success, it's hard to imagine any team taking down the Lakers.

The Rockets alone have gone 0-4, with around a 13 point margin of defeat, against the Lakers this year. It's pretty much assumed that any potential meeting with the Lakers would end with defeat. We just have to hope it's not in the first round.

The best possible match-up for the Rockets would be the Portland Trailblazers.

They are a young team and have not experienced the playoff atmosphere. The Rockets are 2-1 against Portland, with the one loss coming on a last second, incredible 26-foot three-pointer at the buzzer by Brandon Roy. 

If yet another playoff series with Utah is in store, it seems another early round exit is inevitable.

They beat the Rockets in both meetings since getting their roster back to full health (both in Utah, screaming fans and home-town refs included) and have one of the league's best records since the All Star break.

The Rockets' 2008-2009 season will be one appreciated by most fans, considering the 18-7 record since losing Tracy McGrady, and the 49-28 record while dealing with a barrage of injuries.

Regardless of the outcome at seasons' end, it's still worth it to be a Rockets fan.

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