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It was a noble effort for the Houston Rockets. After getting left for dead in the Western Conference playoff race at 27-35, the young upstarts pulled off an 11-game winning streak that got them back into the race for the No. 10 seed. A few recent losses hampered their odds significantly, but entering Sunday, the Rockets were still mathematically alive for a postseason berth that seemed all but impossible one month ago.

With a 22-point lead against the Dallas Mavericks, it looked like the Rockets would remain in the hunt for at least one more day. But Kyrie Irving had other ideas. He led Dallas to a monster comeback with 48 points, but it was his far less famous teammate that ultimately saved the day. A Jabari Smith Jr. miss at the foul line gave the Mavericks hope for a game-tying shot at the buzzer. Dante Exum delivered with a 3-pointer that knotted things up at 129 apiece.

Dallas controlled the overtime period and ultimately outscored Houston, 18-7, and in the process, they officially eliminated the Rockets from postseason contention. In the process, the Mavericks officially solidified the postseason field.

While there is still seeding to figure out, we know for certain which 10 teams will represent each conference. The Nuggets, Timberwolves, Thunder, Clippers, Mavericks, Suns, Pelicans, Lakers, Kings and Warriors will be our 10 Western Conference postseason teams, while the Celtics, Bucks, Magic, Knicks, Cavaliers, Pacers, Heat, 76ers, Bulls and Hawks will be our 10 Eastern Conference teams. Two of each set of 10 will be eliminated in the Play-In Tournament round, and that will give us our final 16 for the first round of the playoffs.

And as for the Rockets? It would be hard to look at this season as anything other than a success despite missing the playoffs. The Rockets were the worst team in the NBA in 2021 and 2022 and weren't much better in 2023. Now, with Ime Udoka as their coach and Alperen Sengun and Jalen Green looking like foundational stars, the Rockets should be right in the thick of things next season.