When the season started, the assumption was that the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets would be a shoo-in for the playoffs. There was no reason for either of them to fall off too much from last season, with the exception of Dallas losing their bid for DeAndre Jordan in the offseason.
That hasn’t exactly been the case, though, as both teams have struggled for much of the season just to stay in the race for a low seed. The Rockets, in particular, have been outside looking in for some time now, but that changed on Monday when they dismantled the Minnesota Timberwolves 129-105 and the Mavericks took down the Utah Jazz 101-92 on the road.
The Mavericks are now guaranteed a playoff spot no lower than seventh to avoid the Golden State Warriors in the first round while knocking out the Jazz into the ninth spot. The Rockets moved in sole possession of the eighth seed with their win and can clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Sacramento Kings at home in their final game of the season, thanks to the conference record tie-breaker they have over the Jazz. In order for the Jazz to take the eight spot, they’d have to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in their final game on the road and hope for the Rockets to lose their final game.
The drama is slowly but surely unfolding, and Bill Simmons shared his thoughts on the crazy season the Mavericks have had.
I can’t believe Dallas is making the playoffs with a Deron-Felton-Barea backcourt + Zaza/DLee/Mejra/Dirk as rim protectors. Holy Carlisle.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) April 12, 2016
When you put it that way, it truly is amazing that Dallas somehow managed to squeeze into the playoffs, even with the loss of Chandler Parsons due to injury. Simmons also explained why the Rockets need to make the playoffs:
I want Houston to get the 8-seed – the playoffs wouldn’t be the same without Dwight Howard clanging free throws. — Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) April 12, 2016
True as that may be, it would still make for an intriguing rematch between the Rockets and Warriors from last season, albeit at a much earlier round.
Jim Park is a blogger and Tweet of the Night author of Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on twitter @SheridanBlog.