2013 NBA Playoffs Showcase: Comprehensive Preview And Predictions—(1) Oklahoma City vs. (8) Houston Rockets

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Nov 28, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) blocks the shot of Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) during the second half at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Oklahoma City won 120-98. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden and his Rockets teammates have become the  subject of hype for fans around the league, and have become a league pass attraction.

They are the chic pick for a team which will proceed to take the West by storm over the next few seasons…

“Can they make some noise this year, already?” is the question people are posing.

Maybe the Houston Rockets aren’t quite ready for the big dance yet. Maybe Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder will just be too much. This is the Western Conference champs. Can Houston hang with them?

The answer to that is: maybe for a little while. Inferior teams can get hot, particularly a team like Houston, but can they hang with OKC for seven games? Can they push it and steal the series?

Lets’ look at what could enable Houston to potentially shock the world, and then see if they do—against the stacked odds of Vegas bookies and analysts who say a team with the youngest starting five in the Association can rise to a challenge they haven’t yet faced: the NBA playoffs.

Breaking this series down on a per position basis may clarify some of the finer points of what separates a team like the 45-37 Houston Rockets and the No. 1 seed in the conference, the Thunder, who finished 60-22. The Thunder were one of just two 60-plus winners in the NBA this season.

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Topics: 2013 NBA Playoff Predictions, Houston Rockets, James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Kevin Durant, Nba Playoffs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Russell Westbrook

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