2. March 12th @ Los Angeles Lakers
The one team the Houston Rockets should try to avoid in the second round of the playoffs is the Los Angeles Lakers. Due to the change to extreme small ball, the Rockets will struggle against the size of the Lakers down low. As of right now, the season series is tied at one apiece.
The Lakers defeated Houston 124-115 in the first meeting, but Houston returned the favor by winning their first game with Robert Covington as part of the new small-ball lineup in Los Angeles, defeating the Lakers 121-111.
This is a huge game for the Rockets, not only to prove that the previous win was not a fluke but to further show that this system can actually work against big teams like Los Angeles. The Rockets need to prove to themselves that this strategy can lead to a championship. The Lakers may have the advantage of size, but the Rockets can easily take over games due to their All-Star backcourt.
Westbrook and Harden have proved that they can easily mesh well with each other, especially in big games. Westbrook is quietly having one of the better seasons of his career. Although he isn’t averaging a triple-double like he did the three past seasons, he is playing almost perfect basketball as of late.
Although Lebron James is considered the starting point guard for the Lakers, their actual guard play isn’t good enough on paper to tame both Harden and Westbrook. It was rumored the Lakers will be looking for a point guard in the trade deadline or the buyout market, but as of right now, they haven’t made a move, which is a great thing for the Rockets.
If the Rockets win the season series against the best team record-wise in the West, it will be due to dominant guard play, which would look good for the team come playoff time.
Next: Game No. 3