Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Inside the Numbers
Overall, the data supports Hollinger’s points about the transition games of the Rockets and Lakers. L.A. is second in the league in fast break points per game at 19.2 while the Rockets are giving up 15.6 per game, which is 27th.
The Lakers actually give up more fast break points per game at 16.8, however, their fast break offense still gives them a net positive of 2.4 while Houston has a net negative 0.9.
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Looking at the head-to-head matchups this season, the Rockets actually outscored L.A. in the fast break points both times — by one in the loss and eight in the victory.
Still, in a seven-game series, teams begin to center back to the mean of what they did all season, so I wouldn’t expect that trend to continue with a fully rested LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
With Avery Bradley opting out of the season, Russell Westbrook should have a field day in the open court, but that will also depend on Houston getting defensive rebounds, which will be tough to do against the Lakers’ size.
The biggest thing the Rockets could do to help themselves against the running game of L.A. is to simply commit more on transition breaks.
“Harden and Russ especially have always been pretty lazy transition defenders,” continued Hollinger. “I think playing 40 minutes per game in this environment probably won’t help that.”
While their superstars definitely will be relied upon to lead the way, an entire team committed to getting back on defense will be needed to slow the Lakers down in the playoffs. The Rockets are set to face the Lakers one more time this season before the playoffs on August 6th at 9 p.m. ET on TNT.