Lakers vs rockets
Photo Credit: Essentially Sports

Game Preview: Lakers vs Rockets – Second Round: Game 1

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Los Angeles Lakers (52-19)  |  Houston Rockets (44-28)

 

The Los Angeles Lakers play Game 1 of their second round playoff matchup in the bubble against the Houston Rockets this evening at 6:00 pm PST.

 

Lakers vs Rockets
Photo Credit: CBS Sports

In a nail-biting Game 7, the Houston Rockets advanced to the second round after a game-saving block by James Harden on Wednesday night. After all the drama and adversity Houston faced going against the Oklahoma City Thunder, they only get one day rest and a ticket to the next round to face the one-seed Los Angeles Lakers.

With Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook returning from injury in Game 5 of the first round, expect Houston to be healthy and ready to run and gun. On the other hand, Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo is expected to play but is listed questionable for Game 1. Both teams are healthy for the most part, so this series should be an exciting watch.

Many people think the Lakers have a tough matchup ahead, but if we history into consideration, take that thought with a grain of salt. James Harden and Russell Westbrook are known to disappear in clutch moments when their team needs them the most. Neither player has led their team to the Finals since their first, and only Finals appearance when they both played for the Thunder against the LeBron James led Miami Heat in 2012. Furthermore, both players have won MVP awards, but they haven’t been able to take the next step.

 

If the Rockets want to have a shot at defeating the Lakers, the must play with almost perfect efficiency.

 

In the first round, James Harden and Russell Westbrook shot a combined 48% from three-point land. The team as a whole shot 40%. For the number of threes the team shoots, this percentage would suffice, but against a team like the Lakers, this will not do. The Rockets will attempt to plan for the Lakers, but as long as Mike D’Antoni remains head coach, the offensive game plan will never change.

 

Lakers vs Rockets
Photo Credit: Draft Kings

The fact that the Lakers have the best frontcourt in the league will be the driving factor for LA. Because the Rockets shoot 40% from three and don’t have any big bodies to throw at the Lakers, if they can’t hit shots, they will lose miserably.

The Lakers finished the regular season as the number three defense, and they are currently the number three ranked offense in the playoffs. However, Houston has the highest defensive rating in the playoffs so far. Expect that to drop dramatically in this series, especially when they’re far shorter and weaker in the interior.

 

The Lakers have the superior team, but they have to play as if they are the underdogs in to win.

 

 

Lakers vs Rockets
Photo Credit: Action Network

As long as role players continue to fulfill their roles and the stars continue to shine, LA can wrap this series up in 5 games.

If Anthony Davis can feast on the Rockets’ weak interior defense, the Lakers will have little to worry about. As long as he and LeBron stay aggressive on both sides of the ball, the rest of the rotation will follow, and the Lakers will dominate.

If the Lakers play at their best, they have a good chance of sweeping the Rockets.

 

 

The game can be seen on ESPN with the tip-off scheduled for 6:00 PM today.

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-Mike Dancy II – Franchise Sports Media

Twitter: MDancyII

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