I’m not even going to front, I’m disappointed this is the matchup. As much as I am a huge Russell Westbrook fan, I don’t care for how this Rocket team plays. And I also wanted to see LeBron go up against another one of the Banana Boat crew. Alas, that did not happen and this is what we got.
FIVE KEYS TO THE SERIES
The Lakers have a bunch. The Rockets have none. How will the Rockets small-ball line up stack up against the 3 7-footers that LA can throw at them. Will Houston be able to weather a bad shooting night? (Unlikely)
Strength vs Strength
The Rockets are one of the highest scoring offenses in the NBA due to their reckless abandon from beyond the arc, and the King of all Bad Calls, James Harden. The Lakers are a defensive juggernaut, with some bad dudes who can go off on their own. The old saying has always been defense wins championships. Will that continue?
Much talk has been made about who will step up to be the Lakers third scorer, with much of the onus falling to Kyle Kuzma. I don’t think the Lakers are doomed if he isn’t that guy (though it certainly wouldn’t hurt if he was), but what they do need from him is to continue to be a defensive stopper. It may surprise you to know that Kuzma has been one of the best defenders of the jump shot in the NBA of late, and that trend will need to continue against a Rockets team that puts up a LOT of shots.
The Rockets biggest advantage over the Lakers is quite obviously their backcourt. Los Angeles just doesn’t have anyone that can come close to Russ and The Beard. Some combination of Alex Caurso, Danny Green, KCP, and hopefully Rajon Rando will have to do their best limiting the damage those two can do while avoiding all the whistles they can draw. It’s really Houston’s only chance to win.
The Lakers are coming off quite a bit of rest, while the Rockets are coming off a grueling 7 game series against the Thunder. This may work to Houston’s advantage in Game 1 as the Lakers find their rhythm again, but will they be able to maintain enough energy as the series continues? Especially with as high octane as their offense is?
The Rockets don’t have an answer for AD. They don’t really have an answer for LeBron James. And even though LA doesn’t really have an answer for Russ and Harden, they take themselves out of games far more than the other two superstars.