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Lakers-Rockets Series Preview: What to Expect

February 21, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) controls the ball against Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After a hard fought battle in game seven, the Houston Rockets advance, looking to dethrone the king. With the Rockets beating the Lakers 2-1 in the regular season, how will this matchup look for the good guys?

Lakers Hot Streak

The Lakers are HOT. There is no debating that. They are currently on a four game win streak after dropping the first game against the Trailblazers. In their last game, LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for 79 points and shot an insane 75.7% from the field. Our Lakers looked good. In the four games, the Lakers shot 52.2% from the field. They’re shooting better now than they were in the regular season (48%).

The Lakers are shooting out of their minds as of late and LeBron is in playoff mode. Anthony Davis is finally getting comfortable again, shooting shots that he knows he can make and gaining confidence while doing it. Whenever both LeBron and AD’s shots are falling like they were in game 5, I don’t think anybody can stop this LA team. LeBron continues to average a triple double through this playoff appearance, averaging 27.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg and 10.2 assists per game. This goes along with some great defense by the king. You don’t so much see it in the stat books, but the legend continues to impress.

Rockets Series Overview

The Rockets were less than impressive in their series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but I don’t think it’s because the Rockets are bad, I think the Thunder shocked the world. They were playing great basketball most of the series. When it came down to it, the star power is what won the Rockets their game 7. Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Is Harden a devastating offensive force? Absolutely. Harden averaged 29.7 ppg with five games over 30 points and two of those games being 37 and 38 point performances. Offensively, the Rockets have the tools to score. They had great performances throughout the series by guards Eric Gordon and Danuel House Jr. They also had a few explosive performances from Robert Covington and P.J. Tucker.

With Russell Westbrook missing the first four games of the series, finally getting his footing back in game 7, expect a few big performances from him. He was gradually getting more minutes and playing with more confidence throughout his last three games.

Lakers-Rockets Regular Season Matchup

As I mentioned earlier, the Lakers dropped two of their three games against the Rockets in the regular season. We see Russ dropping 41 in the game he played, and Harden dropping 39 in the game Russ didn’t play in the Rockets wins and in the Laker win, the two combined for 69 points. In the lone Laker win, LeBron scored 31 to go along with 12 assists, Kyle Kuzma dropped in 23, and Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 20 apiece. In the two losses, Green and KCP combined for a total of 29 points. I think you see what I’m getting at here. If KCP and Green can get their confidence up early in the series, the Lakers are golden.

What to Worry About

There is a lot of talk about, “how are the Lakers going to handle the guard tandem of Russ and Harden?” Well, the same way we handled the best backcourt going into the playoffs, in five games. Alex Caruso is impressing me more and more with every game he plays in. His defense is incredible and the lays it all out on the court. I said the same thing in the Blazer matchup, our bigs are going to be the X-factors. If we can get AD, Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee banging down low, we’re impossible to beat, especially against and undersized team.

The biggest thing we have to worry about is the 3-point barrage the Rockets are about to give us. In their last series, the Rockets launched 357 threes; this is an average of 51 threes a night. They shot more threes in seven games than we shot FIELD GOALS in five. How will we stop this? Danny Green, Alex Caruso, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. We have the length and defensive strength, we just have to fight through screens and give Harden the worst four games of his life.

Prediction

I know the Lakers won’t sweep the Rockets. I think the Lakers win in 6. Houston has more star power than what Portland had. They have two guards that can explode for 45 any given night. The Lakers still have the best basketball player in the world along with the best defensive player in the league (when he wants to be). This is going to be fun.

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