The Houston Rockets will try to take a commanding 2-0 lead in their second-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers tonight. No one gave Houston a chance in this series. But that didn’t stop the Rockets from stealing Game 1 against a well-rested Lakers team. Fresh off of a 4-1 series win against the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles had six days between games to prepare for the second round. Yet, Lakers’ head coach Frank Vogel didn’t seem to have an answer to counter Houston’s small-ball attack. Can LeBron James and the Lakers even up the series against the Rockets in Game 2?
The Rockets surprised the basketball world with a Game 1 win on short rest and they did so in convincing fashion.
Houston stifled the Lakers’ offense by crowding the paint and giving up open looks to non-shooters (Rondo). But perhaps the biggest surprise was Houston’s ability to keep up with the Lakers on the glass. If that proves to be a recurring theme in this series, the Rockets will have a real chance at pulling off the upset.
While most people remember the Rockets as a high-powered offense that shoots a ton of 3-point shots, things have changed inside the bubble. Houston has been the NBA’s best defensive team since the playoff started, posting a 101.4 defensive rating in eight postseason contests. They’ve also slowed down the pace during that span, ranking 10th in the NBA Playoffs in pace at just over 100 possessions per game (100.32). Meanwhile, the Lakers come into this game ranked fifth in the playoffs in defensive rating (105.7). Frank Vogel is a defensive-minded coach and should be able to make some timely adjustments in Game 2. Look for a better defensive performance from the Lakers and take this game to stay under the projected total on 225,5 points