While the Houston Rockets were duking it out with the Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers were resting, which could actually hurt them in this series.
After an intense Game 7 against the Thunder on Wednesday, the Houston Rockets will retake the court on Friday in round two of the Western Conference playoffs. Their opponents, the Los Angeles Lakers, last played a game on August 29th after dispatching of the Portland Trail Blazers in five games. After nearly a week of not running at game speed, the Lakers will have to shake off rust in Game 1 against a red-hot Rockets team with momentum.
It’s worth noting the Houston Rockets were already aware of who they were going up against if they made it past the Thunder. Meanwhile, the Lakers could not truly prepare for Houston or Oklahoma City until the end of Game 7 Wednesday night.
A major wakeup call for the Lakers will be going from a series where they went five games with the Portland Trail Blazers, who ranked eleven out of sixteen playoff teams in defensive rating, to the Rockets, who rank number two.
Expect some turnovers and sloppy play from the Lakers to begin the series, especially since they average the second-most turnovers out of the remaining teams in the bubble, only fewer than the Milwaukee Bucks.
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Not only will they stagger offensively with minimal time to prepare, but the Lakers also struggle to defend the 3-point line, which is a focal point in the Houston Rocket’s offense.
This means if Houston is converting on their long-range shots, the Lakers could be playing from behind frequently. This is even more likely with the Lakers’ best perimeter defender, Avery Bradley, not being with the team.
Furthermore, since the Lakers’ first-round series was wrapped up significantly before the Rockets series was, their two superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis have had time to rest, but court time is more valuable than rest in the playoffs.
The prolonged Rockets vs. Thunder series allowed Russell Westbrook to not only work his way back into the starting lineup but also shake off and rust from missing the start of the playoffs.
While it may seem the Los Angeles Lakers have the advantage over the Houston Rockets in this series, the rest they earned may come back to haunt them come Game 1.
Expect a slow start for the Lakers due to a defensive presence they have not seen and an offense that could be too much to handle.