Can the Houston Rockets Challenge for the NBA Title?

Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets have had a solid year all-round, playing some fantastic basketball and looking like a dangerous team to face in this year’s post-season.

But can Houston realistically challenge for the Larry O’Brien Trophy this year? Can Dwight Howard and James Harden create a partnership to fear on the road to the Finals?

The Rockets’ Regular Season

If you take a look at Houtson’s regular season, things look a bit so-so for Harden and co.

They haven’t held up the best record in the league by any means, and sit fourth in the West right now, and will most likely be facing the Portland Trailblazers in the first round.

But looking at their offensive weapons, Houston have the likes of James Harden, Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones and Chandler Parsons, all of whom can go for 20 on their nights.

They aren’t bad defensively either, with Dwight Howard still sucking in rebounds and protecting the rim well.

If Patrick Beverley is healthy he’s a defensive specialist on the perimeter, covering up for the frailties of James Harden and Jeremy Lin.

Finally, the forgotten Turk Omer Asik is also a defensive powerhouse under the rim, making him a real nightmare for opposing big men.

If all of this comes together, Houston could definitely challenge the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs for a spot in the NBA Finals.

Dwight Howard Championship

Who’s Their Biggest Challenge?

The Western Conference is stacked without a doubt, with a team over .500 guaranteed to miss out on a trip to the post-season.

This obviously comes as a stark contrast to the East, which has been dire over this campaign to say the least.

But who will Houston be looking at going up against later on this month?

The first round will be a match-up between themselves and Portland, which will be a great series without a doubt.

Portland haven’t been the team we saw earlier on this season, but they still pose a real threat to any team in the league with the likes of Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge on their roster.

Houston have a good match-up here though, with James Harden and Dwight Howard both favouring their respective opponents here, and their combined scoring should carry them by the Blazers.

From here, Houston would face the no. 1 or no. 8 seeds in the West, which would be either San Antonio (1) or Memphis/Phoenix/Dallas depending on how the regular season finishes up.

You would be led to believe that it would be the Spurs gliding past any of these three opponents in the first round, especially considering that very few 8 seed teams have surpassed a no 1 seed in the NBA’s extensive history.

San Antonio aren’t spring chickens by any means, and Houston could top them if they play to their potential, especially playing a ‘run and gun’ style of basketball, which San Antonio won’t be able to match up to well.

From here Houston could face a number of teams, with Oklahoma City looking the most likely from judging regular season form.

This is obviously an incredibly tricky match-up, with KD and Russell Westbrook posing monstrous obstacles for Houston.

James Harden Paul George

But considering the recent history between the two teams, it would be no surprise to see this series head to seven games if it came along.

It’s safe to say that this could be one heck of a series to watch from the neutral standpoint, and one which would obviously favour Oklahoma on paper.

However, if Houston somehow got by Oklahoma they would obviously then make the Finals, where they would most likely face Miami or Indiana.

This is no easy match-up either, with Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Paul George, Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson all offering up a hefty challenge.

Funnily enough, Miami would probably be the preferred option for Houston, considering the issues they have had dealing with better big men over the past few years.

If Dwight Howard produced a superstar performance through the series, he could guide Houston to the Championship.

If they face Indiana though, Howard would have to contest with Roy Hibbert, and James Harden would have to produce with Paul George playing defence, something which doesn’t sound too enticing for the Texas team.

Either way, it isn’t going to be an easy ride for Houston, or any other team in the league for that matter.

The only thing we can be sure about, is that the Playoffs will be back, bigger and better than ever!

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Luke Hatfield is the creator and editor of BouncyOrangeBall, with an extensive knowledge of the NBA and basketball in general.

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