This is the classic David versus Goliath story and a very literal one as well. This matchup features the Showtime 2.0 Lakers and the Small Ball Rockets, whom have looked up and down at times yet have seemed to right the ship just in time. The Rockets have relied on small quick lineups that shoot high volumes to overcome their opponents, whereas the Lakers have hung their hats on old school basketball.
Which will prevail and secure a spot in the Western conference Finals?
Keys To The Game:
The Lakers have improved in the shooting department and it will be imperative that they continue to do so against the Rockets. With Anthony Davis stretching the floor effectively as well as controlling the paint on offense, the small Rockets will have a tough time on defense, which will impact their offense as a result. L.A. will also need to run a big in the second unit, maybe a Dwight Howard or JaVale McGee, to keep the pressure on the smaller Rocket lineups.
Defensively, they will have to force the Rockets to play half-court basketball. If the Lakers can force them to play around their size like they did the Trail Blazers, this series is over quickly.
The Rockets have a daunting task going up against the Lakers. What the Rockets lack the Lakers have an abundance of, but the Rockets have scoring which can become overwhelming at times. They must get out and run to force L.A. to go deep into their bench to take advantage of the lack of big man depth. If they can do that, rebounding gets a lot easier and second chance opportunities become less rare.
On defense, the Rockets must stop LeBron James from controlling the pace with his penetration and passing. One way is to pull an L.A. on L.A. and run a staggered double team to get the ball out of his hands. There is no answer for Anthony Davis, so you have to “let him get his” essentially and guard everyone else.
Matchup To Watch:
Which LeBron James shows up? We know what “Playoff LeBron” brings to the table on the nightly basis. “Bubble Bron” left a little to be desired unless it was a team he had to get up for. The Lakers will need the former to show up and lead them in this series.
Which Westbrook shows up? If it’s “Turnover Westbrook” the Rockets will be in trouble against a very good defensive Laker squad. “Brodie” is a walking triple-double and can even the field for the Rockets.
As competitive as the Rockets may be they don’t they just don’t have the size to compete with the Lakers. This will be another gentleman’s sweep for the Lakers.