No. 6: 2013-14 Houston Rockets
A season with high hopes and expectations but low results became the theme of the 2013-14 Rockets. The Rockets started the year with a bang, signing one of the biggest free agents on the market, Dwight Howard.
The team then seemed like it was locked and loaded for the year as they were now led by two stars in James Harden and Dwight Howard. The Rockets also had a promising wing in Chandler Parsons, who was quickly turning into an All-Star caliber player.
The Rockets rolled through most of the regular season, finishing with the fourth seed with a 54-28 record. Although it seemed like a successful regular season, the Rockets were faced with a tough task as they were matched up against the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs.
The Blazers tied the Rockets’ record of 54-28 but did not have the tiebreaker, thus, losing homecourt advantage; however, this did not phase the Blazers as they came into the playoffs rolling. They were able to gain a 3-2 lead on the Rockets and were set up to eliminate Houston at their home court.
Everyone knows what happened in that Game 6, as Dame Lillard ended Houston’s season prematurely in dramatic fashion.
No. 5: 2016-17 Houston Rockets
After coming up short for the last few years, the Rockets started off the year with a change in the head coach position, signing offensive guru Mike D’Antoni. This would also be the first year that the Rockets would try playing James Harden as the point guard of the team.
This Rockets team, however, seemed very depleted as they lost star center, Dwight Howard, and key starter, Chandler Parsons, in the offseason. The Rockets reacted to those losses by adding Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson and acquiring sixth man specialist Lou Williams right before the trade deadline.
Not many expected the Rockets to be a real threat in the West as they only had one true superstar in Harden and not much of a supporting cast on paper; however, once again, the Rockets exceeded expectations. The Rockets finished as the third seed in the conference, winning 55 games and losing 27. Harden played at an MVP level all season long and was one of the most used players in the league.
— NBA (@NBA) April 20, 2017
The Rockets were able to steamroll past the first round of the playoffs, defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. However, their playoff success would soon end when they ran into the San Antonio Spurs in the second round.
Harden, who was fourth in the league in usage rate, was tiring out and didn’t have much left in the tank. The Spurs would take advantage of Harden’s struggles and defeat the Rockets in six games.