An anonymous assistant NBA coach in the Western Conference says the Houston Rockets have a better chance at going to the Finals this year than they did last season.
Earlier in the season, the Houston Rockets were almost completely written off by everyone. After they started the season with a 11-14 record, it was easy to see why.
Everyone said this team took a step back from where they were last year. They said losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute was too big a blow to Houston’s defense for them to overcome. They said Chris Paul was too old now and that the Rockets’ window to come out of the West had closed.
But the Rockets have put the league on notice that they’re still a force to be reckoned with in the West. They have won six consecutive games, including three huge road wins in Golden State, Boston and Toronto.
The Rockets are playing better on both offense and defense and since their disastrous 11-14 start. The Rockets are 28-11 since Dec. 9, the second best record in the NBA over that stretch. Houston is now in a three-way tie with Oklahoma City and Portland for the third spot in the Western Conference standings.
The league is starting to take notice, too. An anonymous assistant coach in the Western Conference admitted that Houston looks even better this season than they did last season, when they won a franchise record 65 games, according to Sean Deveney of Sporting News.
“They have a better chance to win a championship now than they did last year. The adversity has been good for them, I think. They were a good defensive team last year, but they could be soft. That was a fair criticism of them. They’re tougher now. They can take a blow and still win a game.”
“And they’re deeper. That bench is a much better group now. They can go eight or nine deep if they need to. I give them a better chance in the West than anyone besides the Warriors.”
The anonymous assistant coach has a point. The Rockets are a much deeper team this year and they have shown an ability to lock up their opponent’s defensively in recent weeks. The main obstacle for Houston all season has been health, but since the return of Chris Paul and Clint Capela, we’ve seen a team talented enough to challenge Golden State in a seven game series.
Clearly, the Rockets have established themselves as the second best team in the West once again. Clint Capela has taken a huge step forward, the bench is deeper and the Rockets have the league’s reigning MVP in James Harden. It’s safe to say that no one wants to face the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs.