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Rockets, Sixers face pivotal matchups in their playoff chases

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If the Rockets want to keep their hopes of reaching the postseason alive, they’ll need to do something they have not done since Feb. 20, 2020…

Beat the Warriors.

Houston has lost 12 straight games to Golden State – tied for the third-longest active win streak vs. a single opponent – and enters tonight’s game (8 ET, NBA App) three games back of the No. 10 Warriors for the final spot in the SoFi Play-In Tournament in the West.

The Rockets face as close to a must-win game as possible without mathematically being eliminated with a loss

  • A loss puts the Rockets four games back with six games to play
  • The Warriors hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, so the Rockets must finish with a better record to overtake the Warriors
  • That means the Rockets would need to go 6-0, while the Warriors go 1-5 or 0-6 to end the season

With so much on the line, this game should give as much of a Playoff or Play-In feel that a regular-season game can deliver.

Houston caught fire with an 11-game win streak to put the pressure on Golden State, but the Warriors have responded with five straight wins and a chance to deliver a crushing blow to Houston’s hopes tonight.

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With Joel Embiid back, do the Sixers have enough time – with only six games to play – to climb out of the Play-In field and secure a guaranteed Playoff berth with a top-six finish?

Tonight’s game against Miami (7:30 ET, NBA App) will go a long way toward answering that question.

  • Philly (41-35) enters tonight 1.5 games back of both No. 6 Miami (42-33) and No. 7 Indiana (43-34)
  • The Pacers own the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Sixers (2-1 season series), but the Sixers can tie the Heat (2-2) with a win tonight, while also gaining a full game on Miami
  • This may be the fourth (and final) regular-season matchup between the Sixers and Heat, but it will be the first with either Embiid or Jimmy Butler, who each missed the first three games

Embiid shined with 24 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three steals (including the game-sealer) in Philly’s win over OKC on Tuesday. He was visibly spent in the game’s closing moments after giving everything he had in his 29:21 minutes on the court.

Can he conjure up another winning effort tonight to help the Sixers improve their playoff hopes? Both Embiid and fellow All-Star Tyrese Maxey (who’s missed the last two games with a hip injury) are listed as questionable.

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