For the first time in what seems like a while, media narratives surrounding the teams in the West aren't only focused on those at the very top of the conference standings. While the Rockets' outstanding season has been notable to say the least, the tight race playoff race has also been worthy of discussion.
The Pelicans are currently fifth in the standings. Typically, that spot would be considered pretty safe ground in terms of punching a playoff ticket at this point in the season. But only one game separates the Pelicans from the Jazz — who are eighth in the conference — and three games from the ninth-place Nuggets.
Many wrote off New Orleans earlier this season when DeMarcus Cousins went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. But Anthony Davis was able to go on a path of destruction and average 35 points, 13 rebounds and 2.2 blocks a game to put his team in a position to make it back to the playoffs.
NBA PLAYOFFS 2018: Postseason odds for tight races in East, West
Unfortunately for Davis and the Pelicans, the Rockets are in the way. James Harden has spent this season showing that he is a generational talent when it comes to scoring and passing, while proving to NBA writers across the country that he can still find a gear to play at an MVP-caliber level alongside a ball-dominant teammate like Chris Paul.
Houston is either setting itself up for a Western Conference finals matchup for the ages with the Warriors, or one of the greatest postseason flameouts of this generation. Only time will tell.
Will the Pelicans find the cracks in the Rockets' armor to pull out the win, or will Mike D'Antoni's squad continue to prove that it's the best in the league for a reason?
Pelicans vs. Rockets
Time: 8 p.m. ET, Saturday
Location: Toyota Center, Houston
Streaming: fuboTV (sign up for a 7-day free trial)