The only thing worse for the Rockets than having to go to Oklahoma City for Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference's first-round series would have been not going.

Every good young team evolves. The Thunder took the championship-bound Los Angeles Lakers to six games in the first round in 2010, then accelerated quickly to the conference finals the next season and the NBA Finals last season.

The Rockets, the league's youngest, least-experienced team, may not be on that fast a track, depending on their offseason moves.

But as coach Kevin McHale has pointed out, a team can't play its second playoff game until it has played its first and can't win its second playoff game until it has won its first.

Now the Rockets, who achieved the latter with the 105-103 victory over the Thunder on Monday at Toyota Center, are faced with the next step: winning a playoff game on the road.

McHale said Tuesday as the Rockets finished a practice in Houston before heading to the airport that he welcomes the challenge of Game 5 on Wednesday night.

"Now we get to go up to Oklahoma City and play a team desperate not to come back to Houston for a Game 6," he said. "That experience of winning last night and then finding out what it's going to be like in Oklahoma City - you can't buy that experience; you can't replicate it."

There's a reason other than the talent of Durant & Co. and the energy of the crowd inside Chesapeake Energy Arena that the Thunder lost only seven home games this season.