The Spurs used last year to show us how motivating a sour defeat may be; they plowed throughout the league to win their fifth ring, avenging the devastating loss to the Heat in 2013.
On a smaller scale, perhaps that same storyline will play out to the Houston Rockets, who bowed out of the postseason against a Blazers club couple expected would offer immunity.
The Rockets will expect to do more this year. They’ll have less to use than they did a year ago. Omer Asik and jeremy Lin are elsewhere, thinning a rotation that didn’t have a lot of thickness. And, needless to say, Parsons has changed his own 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 anticipate and if Terrence Jones takes another step forward, Houston might be more dangerous than it was a year ago.
But when measured against Dallas and Golden State, whose name chances are exactly the like Houston’s—and whose rosters improved after decidedly more remarkable playoff runs last year—the Rockets seem like the team least likely to deliver on those 20-1 odds.

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