The Spurs used last year to reveal how motivating a bitter defeat could be; they plowed through the group to win their fifth ring, avenging the catastrophic loss to the Heat at 2013.
On a smaller scale, perhaps that exact same narrative will play out to the Houston Rockets, who bowed out of the postseason against a Blazers club couple anticipated would provide resistance.
The Rockets will hope to do more this season. They’ll have less to use than they did. Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik are everywhere, thinning a spinning that didn’t have much depth to lose. And, of course, his own Texas address has been shifted by Parsons.
James Harden and Dwight Howard remain, and they’ll be tested more rigorously than before.
If Trevor Ariza averts the post-contract letdown so many anticipate and if Terrence Jones takes another step forward, Houston might be more harmful than it had been a year ago.
But when measured against Dallas and Golden State, whose name chances are exactly the same as Houston’s–and whose rosters enhanced after more remarkable playoff runs last year–the Rockets look like the team likely to deliver on those 20-1 odds.
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