NBA: Houston Rockets Are the Sleeper Team of the West and Will Shock Many
The Houston Rockets have continued to be a competitive team in the Western Conference, year in and year out. However, they have only escaped the first round of the playoffs once in the last fifteen years.
With the additions of Jeremy Lin and James Harden, the Rockets are now seen as a serious contender and a force to be reckoned with. The organization has proven that they will not slow down, with their activity at the trade deadline, making moves to clear up salary space and adding a promising young stud in power forward Thomas Robinson.
If you take a deep look at this roster, and consider how good Houston is when everything is rolling on all cylinders, the Rockets are a very dangerous threat in the West when it comes to playoff time. Sure they still haven't managed to earn an extensive winning streak, but, have maintained a meritorious record at home. So far, Houston has won 22 of 31 games played at the Toyota Center which will be extremely valuable in the postseason.
The Rockets have a few important advantages in its favor when it comes to effectiveness in the playoffs. Not only are they the highest scoring team in the NBA, averaging 106.9 PPG, Houston also averages the fifth most assists per game with 23.5. This is very beneficial because the Rockets have proven to be consistently capable of spacing the floor and playing team basketball. Also, the high intensity and fast pace play in which the entire Houston team exudes on a daily basis gives opponents nightmares.
Although the Rockets have a very complete and quite deep roster, the team has mainly been based around Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and James Harden. Three players who were not a part of the team last season. Lin, Asik and Harden compliment each other so well and give Houston the ability to run such a speedy offense. This is a new Houston team that will be dominant in the Western Conference for years to come. However, do not count them out this season with the leadership that has been displayed by Harden and Lin.
As impressive as they have been this season, Houston still has some big competition standing in its way. The Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs are undoubtedly favorites in the West to reach the NBA Finals, but all the Rockets have to do is steal a game on the road. If this happens early in a series, you can bet your bottom dollar Houston could win against any of these teams because of its nearly flawless play at home. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done with a current record of 14-21 on the road. But, the Rockets have six more away games to attempt to gain momentum heading into the postseason.
The most important goal for Houston should be to earn and lock up the sixth spot in the Western Conference and hope for the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. The Grizzlies are a very favorable matchup for the Rockets and would be a much easier victory than the other two teams Houston can potentially face: The Thunder and the Clippers.
Despite who Houston goes up against in the opening round, you can expect a very competitive series that may go down to the wire. This Rockets squad is clearly a blossoming force in the future, but will surprise many once the postseason arrives. The organization receives its fair share of credit, however, no one is even considering them as a finals threat. Keep your eyes on this thrilling Houston team and expect the unexpected in the playoffs.
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