We continue our 2015 NBA playoffs series outlook with the Houston Rockets, a team currently No.2 in the Western Conference. Lead by MVP front-runner James Harden, the Rockets look to improve on two consecutive seasons of first round playoffs eliminations– their team hasn’t advanced past the second round of the playoffs since the 2009-2010 NBA postseason. With the recent addition of Josh Smith and the return of a healthy Dwight Howard, this team appears to be primed to make some serious noise this year, and they certainly have the playoff experience which will allow them to do so.
Can this talented Rockets team come together and advance to the second round of the NBA Playoffs?
What could make or break the Rockets during the postseason?
-Team S.U. Debates
Keith Rivas (Sports Unbiased Writer): I know this may not make a lot of sense to those of you that follow the NBA, but there’s something about the Rockets that just doesn’t click. Whether it’s from watching tape, live games, or seeing how they interact at practices, it’s a gut instinct that tells me not to fall in love with James Harden & Co.
Also, when you look at the way the NBA standings in the Western Conference are lining up, the San Antonio Spurs are looking like a good pick for the sixth seed, which would mean being the Rockets’ first-round opponent. The Spurs have a track record for catching fire at the right time and, given that key players on their team like Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Kawhi Leonard all stay healthy, I’d take the Spurs over them any day of the week.
So, in short, having to go up an experienced team like the Spurs in Round 1 all but burns up the Rockets’ fueled efforts this NBA season.
Steve Turner (Sports Unbiased Writer): I believe the Houston Rockets could avoid that first round exit but in order to do so, they need to take that second seed from the Memphis Grizzlies. Houston and Memphis are currently fighting for the No.2 seed in the west. Even if the Rockets can manage to take that spot from the Grizzlies, it still won’t be an easy journey. If the season ended today, the Rockets could possibly play the either the San Antonio Spurs or Dallas Mavericks– because the No.2 and No.3 seed is so close to call.
The defending champion Spurs have been showing signs that they are ready to make another run for that title. Every NBA fan knows that once they playoffs begin, the Spurs really turn it on and play at their best level. It’ll be a problem for Houston if they meet up with the Spurs, with the possible results of a first round exit. I also believe that if the Rockets end up with a matchup versus the Dallas Mavericks, they can advance to the second round. Houston just really needs Dwight Howard to return to his old style of play– If this could happen, I would be worried about this team as James Harden has already proved this season that he is the best shooting guard in the league.
With his name being thrown around in the MVP conversation, there’s no doubt that Harden will be a key factor for the Rockets. With Patrick Beverly out due to injury, it just makes it that much harder for the Houston Rockets. If I was a Houston fan, I’d be really hoping that they can advance to the second seed and play the Mavericks.
Sauping R. Arguello (NBA Contributor): The Houston Rockets have a chance of advancing to the second round of the playoffs but are not a lock to. MVP candidate James Harden is carrying this team on his shoulders and bolstering most of the load with Dwight Howard being out of the lineup most of the season. The key acquisitions of Josh Smith and Corey Brewer have helped strengthen their rotation. At the same time, key players like Terrence Jones and Patrick Beverly being in and out of the lineup with injuries can hurt their depth. Howard is just getting back from injury so I’m not sure if it is enough time to be as effective as he can be when fully healthy.
Bobby Bourhis (NBA Contributor, If I Were a GM- Personal Blog): The Houston Rockets are looking at possibly entering the playoffs as the number two seed in the Western Conference. This is going to give them a tremendous opportunity to advance to the next round, especially with Dwight Howard, Donatas Motijunas and Terrence Jones coming back healthy. The wrist injury that Patrick Beverley suffered is a significant loss to the Rockets, simply just because of the lack of depth on the Rockets’ roster at point guard.
Their team defense is going to suffer without Beverley, and if James Harden cannot step up his individual defense, then the Rockets are not going to make it deep into the playoffs. With that being said, James Harden has been on an absolute role offensively to close out the season. Fresh off of a career high 51 point performance in a victory over the Dallas Mavericks, Harden shows that he has the capability to carry his team deep into the playoffs.