Houston Rockets: 20-1
The Spurs used last season to reveal how motivating a sour defeat could be; they plowed throughout the group to win their fifth ring, avenging the devastating loss to the Heat at 2013.
On a smaller scale, possibly that same storyline will play out for the Houston Rockets, who bowed out of the postseason against a Blazers club few expected would provide immunity.
The Rockets will hope to do more this season. They’ll have less to use than they did. Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik are everywhere, thinning a spinning that didn’t have a lot of depth to lose. And, of course, his own Texas address has changed.
Dwight Howard and james Harden stay, and they will 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 might be more harmful 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 enhanced after more remarkable playoff runs last year–the Rockets look like the team least likely to deliver on those 20-1 odds.