The Spurs used last season to reveal how motivating a bitter defeat may be; they plowed throughout the league to win their fifth ring, avenging the catastrophic loss to the Heat in 2013.
On a smaller scale, perhaps that exact same storyline will perform to the Houston Rockets, who bowed out of the postseason from a Blazers club few anticipated would provide resistance.
The Rockets will hope to do more this year. Unfortunately, they’ll have less to use than they did a year ago. Omer Asik and jeremy Lin are elsewhere, thinning a rotation that didn’t have a lot of thickness. And, of course, Parsons has changed his Texas address.
James Harden and Dwight Howard stay, and they’ll be tested more rigorously than before.
If Trevor Ariza averts the post-contract letdown so many expect and if Terrence Jones takes yet another step forward, Houston could be more dangerous than it had been a year ago.
But when measured against Dallas and Golden State, whose title chances are exactly the same as Houston’s–and whose rosters improved after decidedly more remarkable playoff runs last season –the Rockets seem like the team least likely to deliver on those 20-1 odds.
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