The Houston Rockets aren't the same team as last season when they won a franchise-record 65 games and led the Golden State Warriors by double-digits at halftime of Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. Undeterred by the Rockets early struggles this season and optimistic that a more well-rounded roster will ultimately prove beneficial, P.J. Tucker believes they are better off for it, too.
“That's definitely the focus, trying to get back to the Western Conference Finals,” he told Jim Rome of CBS Sports, per SB Nation's The Dream Shake. “We got in a really good position last year, some unfortunate things happened, life happens, you didn't win. But our focus has been to get back there. We've had a pretty decent season – not as good as we possibly wanted, but it ended out pretty good. I think now, going into the playoffs, we're a different team, definitely not the same team as last year, with a whole new focus and understanding of what we gotta do to get it done.
“This year I feel like we're a little bit deeper as a complete team at every position,” Tucker continued, “and I think it's gonna help us in the long run no matter what happens.”
Houston has overcome widespread early-season labors to again emerge as the biggest threat to the two-time defending champion Warriors. Whether or not the Rockets have a better chance to beat them in a potential Western Conference Finals rematch, though, is a matter of debate, with most likely assuming the negative.
But with James Harden, Chris Paul, Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, and Tucker, Houston boasts a five-man lineup that's already proven it can hang with Golden State. And if Austin Rivers, Iman Shumpert, and Kenneth Faried come up big, maybe the Rockets will live up to Tucker's confidence by beating the Warriors come May.