Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Rockets end the season on a (mostly) high note

The Rockets' comeback against the Los Angeles Clippers in game five of the second round of the playoff was utterly amazing: down by 19 points, and staring elimination in the face, they rallied to win that game, as well as the next two games, to become only the ninth team in NBA history to come back from a three-game series deficit to win.

That put the Rockets into the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 1997, where they once again found themselves down three games to the Golden State Warriors. Last Monday, once again staring elimination in the face, the Rockets rallied to win. Would they be able to pull off the improbable one more time and make it to the NBA Finals? On the 20th anniversary of the franchise's amazing 1995 championship run, no less?

Alas, no.

It's easy to play the "what if" game and wonder what could have been: if Patrick Beverly and Donatas Motiejunas had been healthy, if Dwight Howard had been better at the free-throw line, if John Harden had been less prone to turn the ball over...

It doesn't matter. The Rockets had a good season which ended at the hands of the best team in the NBA (I will be very surprised if the Warriors do not decisively defeat the Cavaliers in the Finals). After years and years of postseason disappointment - between the 1997 season and this one, the Rockets had only won one playoff series - the team finally lived up to their potential and made a deep run into the playoffs.

Hopefully they can take that next step in the 2016 playoffs.

Jeff Balke lists reasons for optimism. Matt Jackson ponders the franchise's offseason activity.

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