The Rockets won their first round series against the Thunder in five games, showing a glimpse of what this offense-driven team is capable of. Are the Rockets worth consideration in NBA Futures odds markets?
The Rockets beat the Thunder 105-99 in Game 5 to advance to the Western Conference semifinals, where they await the winner of the Grizzlies-Spurs series.
It was a hotly contested series. The final four games were decided by two possessions or less, so the margin for error was thin and the Thunder didn't capitalize on their advantages, while their disadvantages were on display.
The head-to-head battle between MVP candidates Russell Westbrook and James Harden was as exciting as expected. Westbrook won the individual battle but Harden won the team war. Both tried to do whatever they could to give their team the upper hand but only Harden earned the right to reach the second round.
In the end, this series was not decided by the superstars. Westbrook didn't admit it but the supporting casts decided the outcome. The Rockets had way more depth and that was enough to end the series in five games.
Round 2 Preview
The Rockets have their eyes on their next opponent, the winner of the Grizzlies-Spurs series, two teams that feature a mismatch.
The Spurs lead that series 3-2 and they should advance. With the way the Rockets struggled defending Russell Westbrook, the Spurs are a scary team to play against because Kawhi Leonard has been unstoppable against a solid defensive team like the Grizzlies.
The Rockets don't seem to have an answer for Leonard and the Spurs have an extremely capable supporting cast, so a potential Rockets-Spurs series will be a treat.
The good news for the Rockets is that they will have more time to rest before the second round, but it could also hurt their rhythm.
Potential Conference Final
If the Rockets somehow survive the Spurs they'll likely battle Stephen Curry and the Warriors.
The Rockets can beat the Warriors at their own game and Bovada has them at +1400 to win the NBA Championship.
I will never count out the Spurs and neither should you, as they won their season series with the Rockets 3-1. It would be smart for the Rockets to not look past the Grizzlies or the Spurs, but it can't be denied that Houston is an intriguing NBA pick to win the Western Conference.