Why a Rockets’ series loss might be a concern for the
Western Conference

With a surprising Game 2 loss at home to the Utah Jazz, all
eyes remain on James Harden and the Houston Rockets to avoid another disappointing
second-round playoff exit. The NBA’s best regular season team is not only in
jeopardy of living up to expectations, but also falling short to the highly anticipated
Rockets–Warriors showdown. 

The Rockets’ incredible 29-2 stretch left the league in complete
awe, and thinking this team could really give the defending champs a run for
their money. 

There still had been trepidation however with Rockets’ success
during the regular season, for they still have to prove themselves in the
playoffs. With momentum swinging back to Utah in Game 3, Harden and his team is
yet again surrounded with uncertainty. 

The future 2018 MVP and his teammate Chris Paul, has to carry
Houston in order to win these next two games on the road. Vivint Smart Home
Arena, Salt Lake City, will be completely chaotic this weekend – hoping to
boost their Jazz to another playoff upset. 

A loss this series could be a tale of two different halves
for Harden, Paul, and this Rockets team overall. Another early playoff exit
could really insinuate a dark cloud over the legacy of these superstars.     

Like Harden, Paul too has dealt with his fair share criticism
based on his early round exits in the playoffs. This series will not only be
huge for them to live up to expectations, but also to improve their playoff pandemonium. 

NBA fans need Houston to win this series because they are the best chance against Golden State,
not Utah. Though they did not play like it in Game 2, the Jazz are truly the
underdogs in this series. 

If the Rockets fall short once again, which Western Conference
team can actually challenge the Warriors in the near future? 

This thought is scary if you look at the state of NBA’s
Western Conference. There is beginning to be a lack of parody in the west
actually, rather than the east, for the first time in years.   

Big questions remain for some of the “premier” teams in the
west like: The Oklahoma City Thunder, the San Antonio Spurs, and now the
Houston Rockets.

The Carmelo Anthony/Paul George experiment in OKC looks like
it just will be a one-season trial, after the way things played out in the
first round. The Thunder have a lot of questions to address this offseason and
it starts with George.

Rumors of Paul George leaving to join the Los Angeles Lakers
is one of the league’s best kept secrets, as he has been open about his love
for L.A. for quit some time now. With Anthony’s lackluster performance this
season, and especially with a quick playoff exit, George is very likely to
leave the Thunder coming this offseason. 

The next power team in the west, the Spurs, are about to be
in serious rebuild. The once heavily contenders are now going to the be ones fighting
for playoff position, specifically with their best player, Kawhi Leonard
leaving next season. 

How will the Harden, Paul, and the Rockets handle adversity
on the road against the Jazz?

Photo by Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (James Harden) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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