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CORRECTION 4/15/2018: This article has been updated to reflect that the Houston Rockets would face the winner of the OKC/UTAH series.
The Houston Rockets can boast the claim that they are the best team in the NBA, well at least for now. The Rockets are on a quest to make the statement to the entire NBA that they are the best team in basketball. They are entering the 2017-2018 playoffs as the highest seed in the Western Conference, with the best record in all of basketball in their back pocket. However, they still have a lot of things to prove.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Rockets are facing off against the eight seed in the Western Conference, the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Timberwolves will prove to be a viable first-round match for the Rockets as they consist of two exceptional offensive players in Forward Jimmy Butler and Center Karl Anthony-Towns. However, Minnesota’s defensive unit ranks in the bottom of the NBA.
For the first round of the playoffs, the Rockets should not have that much trouble getting past the Timberwolves as they won all four games against them in the regular season. The offensive front of the Rockets will prove to be a challenge for the Minnesota defense.
The Rockets come into the series with one of basketball’s top offensive and defensive units. Guard James Harden showed the entire league that he is the best player in the league right now. Harden averaged 30.4 points per game to go along with 8.8 assists per game to back his very strong MVP candidacy.
The addition of Chris Paul in the offseason has given the Rockets a second go-to option in the playoffs. Paul is a proven warrior in the postseason and is highly regarded as one of the best point guards in NBA history. Add Chris Paul to a lineup of center Clint Capela, who has come into his own this season, veteran defensive wizard Forwards Trevor Ariza and PJ Tucker and Harden and the Rockets showcase a very prominent front.
Coming off the bench, the Rockets showcase the professional scoring guard in Eric Gordon, the Houstonian guard/forward in Gerald Green and the strong-bodied center Nene. The bench of the Rockets has proven to be a strong point of the team.
This year the Rockets are built for the long run, as they are no longer as reliant on James Harden as they have been in previous years. Should the Rockets get past the Timberwolves, they would face the winner of the OKC/UTAH series.
Game one of the series is on Sunday, April 15 at 8 p.m. The game can be watched on TNT. Keep an eye out as I continue to follow their journey throughout the playoffs.