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Can The Rockets Win A Conference Title?

ESPN.com released their Western Conference forecast today, likely in order to kill off more time until a batch of meaningful news falls from the trees. The results weren't surprising. They weren't going to be surprising. It should be fairly obvious - even to the casual observer - that the LA Lakers are expected to take the Western crown yet again this year. There's not a single reason to doubt them. None.

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But what's interesting is that the Lakers didn't receive every single vote. Out of the 95 votes that were cast, the Lakeshow only received 88. Guess who tied for second place?

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1. LA Lakers (88 votes)

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2-t. Houston Rockets (2 votes)

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2-t. OKC Thunder (2 votes)

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3. Dallas Mavericks (1 vote)

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In case you're scratching your head, the Mavericks did finish second in the conference a year ago. They haven't changed a bit. Most favor them over the Rockets in 2010-2011. And yet, according to this list, they're ranked below the Red.

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Perhaps the two Rockets voters were Rahat Huq, True Hoop's Rockets blogger, and someone like Jon Barry, who played for the Rockets a few years back. Or perhaps the votes were cast by unbiased analysts. We don't know. But it's interesting to see people recognize the on-paper potential of this Rockets squad, because it really is booming with potential. If everyone stays healthy, and if everyone fills their role properly, and if Yao can play at a semi-high level, the Rockets could top the Lakers. It could happen, if everything works out as planned.

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If. If. If. If. If. IIIIFFFF.

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We've been here before, haven't we?

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.