The Rocket’s clinched the first place in the western conference and it wasn’t even close. Their 65-17 giving them a 7-game cushion over the second place Golden State Warriors. The team has found great success behind the three point line, they led the league with 42.3 attempts per game and it has been one of the driving factors of their success. You pair that with James Harden having a MVP season, and it’s clear on how they clinched first place. Hopefully the Rockets can maintain this momentum into the post-season because this was one of the best seasons in franchise history.
Why They Will Win
As mentioned above, the Rockets will go far if they continue to play at the level they played at during the regular season. They will need to ramp up their intensity obviously as the playoffs always bring out the best in everyone.
Why They Won’t
Bad track record in the playoffs. In 2013, 2014, and 2016, the Rockets were eliminated in the first round. In 2014 they made it to the conference finals and last year they made it to the conference semifinals. They must overcome the mental challenge of making it past the first round, as that seems to be the issue from preventing them from going far.
Chris Paul. While some consider him one of the greatest point guards this generation, his past performances in the post-season indicate that Paul has a tough time in the playoffs. He’s coming off a decent season averaging 18.6 PPG, 7.9 APG, and 5.4 RPG. That being said, Paul has always been a great regular season performer, so he needs to keep playing at the level he is playing at and hopefully stay healty.
Best Case Scenario:
The Rockets make it out of the 1st round slump and continue on to make it to the finals. Given who makes it from the east, I think the Rockets might have a good chance to win the NBA Final!
Worst Case Scenario:
The 3-point shooting turns into a festival of bricks and both Harden and Paul struggle. The Rockets get eliminated in the first round, which wouldn’t surprise me, but would be disappointing given the fantastic season they have had.