NBA recap during COVID-19: How were Texas teams holding up before cancellation? Will they succeed in a potential playoff run?

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Keith Allison

Prior the the season's cancellation, Rockets star guard James Harden led the league in scoring with 34.4 points per game.

On March 5, the NBA paused their season indefinitely following Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert’s COVID-19 diagnosis. The league swiftly and correctly suspended their season to protect fans and teams alike as containment is now possible for the two confirmed cases, Gobert and his teammate Donovan Mitchell. 

While there is no official word on when play could resume—though rumors have circulated that it may be June—NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has stated that the season suspension would be re-evaluated after “at least 30 days,” at which point the league will decide how to proceed with the season.

The most common cited plan for resuming play consists of ending the regular season as soon as the suspension is lifted, effectively starting the playoffs with the current league standings. While this will have little to no effect on the top-seeded teams, such as the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers, those on the bubble of the playoff race or those who want a better seed may take issue with the development. 

Of the Texas teams, two of the three squads would be poised for playoff berths, the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks. The San Antonio Spurs, however, are currently four games behind the last playoff seed and would be out of luck. 

In Houston, the Rockets have continued to rely on the stellar play of perennial all-stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook. They have relied on them so much, in fact, that the team transformed themselves into a “small ball” lineup at the trade deadline. No player over 6 foot 8 inches gets consistent minutes, and the team relies on quick ball movement and pick and rolls to create scoring opportunities. 

Despite “small ball” seeing early success, the recent batch of Rockets games seems to show that the league is catching up to the concept, as prior to the league’s pause, Houston had seen losses in four of their last five games. 

As it currently stands, the Rockets hold the sixth seed in the playoffs, meaning they would face off against the third-seed Denver Nuggets. 

The Dallas Mavericks have maintained a respectable record despite their ups and downs this season. Most of this can be credited to their duo of young stars Luka Dončić and Kristaps Porziņģis. 

Despite spending the past few years as a cellar-dweller program, Dallas struck gold with the 20-year-old Dončić and took a strong finish to their previous campaign and turned it into a successful season. 

Based on the current league standings, Dallas holds the seventh seed and is slated to play the second seed Los Angeles Clippers. 

Finally, we have the San Antonio Spurs. After dominating the 2000s with three championships, tallying a record-tying 22 consecutive playoff appearances, the Spurs are currently set to finish with the 12th seed, missing the playoffs for the first time since the 1997-1998 NBA season.

At this point, the Spurs seem to only be lacking star power. Gregg Popovich has proven himself to be one of the greatest minds the sport has ever seen, but typically good coaching can take a team to the next level, making a good team great. Currently, he is making a mediocre team decent. 

Of the playoff teams, both teams have great pieces and plenty of potential. While the Rockets have the better stars, the Mavs have the better all-around roster, and I have trouble seeing “small ball” finding much success come playoff time. Both teams would have tough potential matchups, but the Mavs have the most potential for playoff success.