After two straight years of subpar postseason performances, why should anyone think that the Rockets are ready to finally take that next step this year?
It is true that the public's faith is wavering, but GM Daryl Morey still believes in his team -- especially after the acquisition of Russell Westbrook.
Adding Westbrook boosted the Rockets' odds of winning the title by about 30 percent, Morey says, citing internal calculations. It also helps that the Warriors aren't the Warriors anymore.
Morey is singing the same tune with Russ as he did with Chris Paul. This time, though, Harden assures us things are just "different."
"Russ isn't just like one of my old teammates that I was in Oklahoma City with; Russ has been my brother since I was 10," Harden says. "Our communication is different. The way we talk to each other is different."
No matter what kind of feelings the Rockets may be portraying, it will not be a cakewalk through the West. The Lakers, Clippers, and Jazz will be out to prove their dominance this season, and Houston will have to fight through them all to get to the top.
Ultimately, it will take more than words and a brotherly bond to achieve ultimate success. Harden, Morey and the Rockets will find that out one way or another.