Ok, so Yao is hurt, T-Mac hasn't won a playoff series and Ron Artest is a "locker room cancer." But I think that the Rockets are primed for a run at the title in the tough Western Conference.
To be the best, you must beat the best. Right now, the best is the NBA champion Boston Celtics. The Big 3 of Houston (Tracy McGrady, Ron Artest and Yao Ming) match up favorably with the Big 3 of Boston (Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett). Boston lost James Posey in the offseason to New Orleans while Houston retained foreign big man Luis Scola.
The biggest challenge in the West for the Rockets will come from the Los Angeles Lakers, led by Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Last year during the finals, the Lakers were missing a big man against the deep Celtics. This year, Andrew Bynum returns to the offense to help Gasol in the post. Houston's size could still be a problem for Los Angeles while L.A.'s perimeter offense could be slowed by former defensive player of the year Ron Artest.
So this year, after many failed attempts at a run for the title, the Rockets should be able to compete and possibly win the championship.