The Houston Rockets had the best record in the NBA last season and were a game away from reaching the NBA Finals.
Had Rockets All-Star point guard Chris Paul not gotten hurt in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, many believe Houston would have won that series and advanced to the Finals.
After getting off to a terrible start this season, the Rockets are back to their old ways, and one Western Conference assistant coach says they are a better team this season than last year's squad:
“They have a better chance to win a championship now than they did last year,” the coach told Sean Deveney of Sporting News. “The adversity has been good for them, I think. They were a good defensive team last year, but they could be soft. That was a fair criticism of them. They’re tougher now. They can take a blow and still win a game.
“And they’re deeper. That bench is a much better group now. They can go eight or nine deep if they need to. I give them a better chance in the West than anyone besides the Warriors.”
Entering Wednesday, the Rockets are 39-25 on the season, which is good for third place in the Western Conference standings.
Houston is 3-0 against the Warriors this season. Reigning MVP James Harden leads the league in scoring at 36.7 points per game. Along with Paul, Houston has Austin Rivers and Eric Gordon in the backcourt, two players who can score in bunches.
The Rockets also added Kenneth Faried to bolster their frontcourt depth, and he has been a great addition.