Former Houston Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy still lives in Houston, while working as an NBA analyst for ESPN and ABC. He has worked several Houston games this season, and of course, has been courtside as an analyst for the other top teams in the league over the course of the season, as well. He was a strong supporter of the Rockets addition of Dwight Howard in the offseason and has said since the season began, that he liked the Rockets to win the NBA championship this season. He participated in a media conference call in advance of the NBA playoffs on Thursday and his prediction has not changed.
"I’m going to pick the Western Conference winner and I’m going to stick with Houston," Van Gundy stated. "I think that means that they would have to win two straight or three straight series if they get by Portland, they’d have to win three straight series on the road without home court advantage, which seems really difficult, I just like their team from the start.
"I really do believe the Western Conference winner will win it, so I’ve got to stick with who I think is going to win the West," Van Gundy added. "But you could convince me about San Antonio and Oklahoma City and the Clippers, as well, because all of them are really good. This is a team (in Houston) that’s been put together that has great offensive talent and fits together really well. They play fast. They score easily. They have a talent in James Harden, who’s as hard to guard as anybody not named (Kevin) Durant or LeBron James. They’ve got a center (Dwight Howard) who gives them a force in the paint to protect the rim, to rebound and score around the basket, and then they’ve got one of the most unique competitors in Patrick Beverley who just, I love his mentality to attack each and every opponent and go after them. I think Houston has got as good a chance as anybody to come out of the West."