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Houston Rockets: 20-1

The Spurs used last season to reveal how motivating a sour defeat may be; they plowed throughout the league to win their fifth ring, avenging the devastating loss to the Heat at 2013.
On a smaller scale, possibly that same narrative will play out for the Houston Rockets, who bowed out of the postseason against a Blazers club few anticipated would provide resistance.
The Rockets will hope to do more this year. They’ll have less to use than they did. Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik are elsewhere, thinning a spinning that didn’t have a lot of thickness to shed. And, of course, Parsons has shifted his Texas address.
Dwight Howard and james Harden stay, and they’ll be tested more rigorously than ever before.
If Trevor Ariza averts the post-contract letdown so many expect and when Terrence Jones takes yet another step ahead, Houston could be more harmful than it was a year ago.
But when measured against Dallas and Golden State, whose title chances are exactly the like Houston’s–and whose rosters improved after decidedly more impressive playoff runs last year–the Rockets seem like the team likely to deliver on those 20-1 odds.

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