Houston (CBS Houston) – The NBA Playoffs begin this weekend and the chances for the Rockets to win the title are slim.
According to Vegas the Rockets have a 30 to 1 shot to win the title, while that’s tied for the fourth best chance in the NBA, the odds are long for the Rockets to claim their third title in franchise history.
The Rockets have been better than many expected them to be this season. After an eighth place finish and a quick exit in last season’s playoffs. A new head coach, a new supporting cast and a new attitude from James Harden has seen the Rockets finish in the top three in the Western Conference.
While I won’t detail a plan on how the Rockets will make a championship run, I will make a path to the trophy in the hypothetical world that the Rockets win every playoff series this year.
The first round series is already set and it’s the best series the NBA has in the opening round. Russell Westbrook versus James Harden, the MVP versus the scorned MVP, oh wait, we won’t know who the MVP is yet and the series won’t play into the voting for the MVP. A shame for the marquee matchup of the first round, but oh well. It will still be the MVP versus the runner-up to the MVP we just won’t know who, but it’s obvious that both players will try to show why they deserve to win the MVP Award. From an entertainment perspective, this matchup is the best the NBA has in the first round.
Onto the second round where the Rockets will get the winner of the Spurs and the Grizzlies first round series. Let’s be honest, this will be the Spurs. Unless Greg Popovich decides to retire before the postseason, the Rockets, again in our assumed world they win every series, will play the Spurs in the second round. Again, a highly entertaining series for Rocket fans, a renewal of the I10 rivalry between the Rockets and the Spurs bringing back memories of Hakeem Olajuwon battling David Robinson. It would be intriguing to watch Harden try to navigate the Spurs defense and what Popovich and Kawhi Leonard have in store for him.
After the Rockets get past the Spurs they’ll head to the Western Conference Finals for the second time in three years where they will meet the Golden State Warriors for the third straight postseason. This time they will win and make up for the previous two years of defeats. A series in which Patrick Beverley tries to annoy Steph Curry is worth the price of admission alone. In addition to that, how annoyed and excited would Rocket fans get with Draymond Green in a series he loses to the Rockets? Also, how would the Rockets slow down Kevin Durant? Somehow the Rockets do in our hypothetical world and move onto the NBA Finals.
Finally in our fictional universe, the Rockets get to the NBA Finals where they meet his majesty, Lebron James. Let’s face it, the Cavs are winning the East. I’d be more surprised if someone other than Cleveland wins the East than I would if the Grizzlies upset the Spurs in the first round. Facing Lebron in the NBA Finals would be like facing Michael Jordan in the Finals. It’s the best player in the world currently playing and it’s a guy that goes to the finals just about every year. Since the Rockets are winning every series, the Houston fans would beat the best at his best and see Lebron over the course of the series lose his mind out of frustration as James Harden cements himself as a superstar in the NBA that can win a title.
So in this universe, the Rockets would have a very entertaining path to their third championship in franchise history. A meeting against the favorite to win the MVP in the first round, a renewal of the I10 rivalry against San Antonio in the second, a matchup in the Western Conference Finals against the super team and the franchise with one of the best three year spans in NBA history and a chance to atone for the previous two years of playoff defeats, and then reigning supreme over the King himself for the ultimate prize in the NBA Finals.