After an eventful first round, the second round is full of great matchups that are sure to excite. After winning a wild seven-game series with the Thunder, the Rockets can’t take it easy yet. They are now facing the well-rested #1 seed Los Angeles Lakers in what should be another great series. For this NBA Playoff Preview, there are many questions I have that will help me figure out who is going to win this series.
Okay, now that the introduction is out the way, I hate both of these fucking teams. I dislike Lakers and Rockets fans for the same reason: They’re obnoxious and unbearable. It doesn’t also help that I hate Lebron James and James Harden religiously. So naturally, I am going to have a lot to say about these teams and these players. I can see this series going to 7 games. Let’s see why.
Los Angeles Lakers
For this NBA playoff preview, the Lakers need to stick with the whole gameplan this entire season and rely on Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Not the worst plan in the entire world. It led them to the #1 seed in the West, after all.
KCP and Danny Green are their three and D[defense] guys. Kyle Kuzma isn’t bad defensively. He isn’t great either. He does have more of an offensive skill set, but he often disappears in games.
While Anthony Davis might feast on the Rockets micro ball, JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard will often be lost on defense trying to defend. These guys are rim protectors. Trying to guard on the perimeter will kill them. Anthony Davis can defend on the perimeter, which is why he must play the five. He won’t though.
Too much of my surprise, the Lakers did enough to limit the Blazers starting guards in CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard. Sure, they had their scoring outbursts, but there were times when both guards went cold. The Lakers defense can do that.
James Harden and other shooters on the Rockets can be a much bigger problem, though. With the Lakers losing Avery Bradley and Rajan Rondo, their guard depth is looking slim, especially defensively. The Rockets have enough shooters to go around. Can the Lakers defend them all?
For the Houston Rockets in this NBA Playoff preview, I still think the James Harden and Russell Westbrook duo was a mistake. You don’t put the most ball-dominant guys in NBA history on the same team and expect a recipe for success.
Alas, I will take all that back if they win this series. Both James Harden and Russell Westbrook have a history of disappearing in the playoffs. James Harden disappears in playoff games as he did in game seven against the Thunder, but he came up big at the end with a game-saving block.
Harden has either great games or is nonexistent in them; there’s no in-between. Russell Westbrook is no better. He has finally got past the first round for the first time since 2016. Both times he wasn’t the #1 guy on the team. Kevin Durant was the #1 back then, and James Harden is the #1 guy for the Rockets. He, too, has some lousy playoff games but has stellar ones also. Both players must show up for the Rockets, or else, there’s not much hope.
The Rocket bench needs to prevalent. The return of Eric Gordon is a huge boost. He played well last series for the most part and will continue to build on that. Daniel House Jr. and Ben McLemore will need to shoot well to help the spacing for the Rockets. The wings will need to play their best defense for the Rockets to win.
Robert Covington should be guarding Lebron or Anthony Davis at all times. He could be seeing +40 minutes easily just for his defending. Jeff Green and PJ Tucker will have to do their best to contain Anthony Davis. If they can force him to play like a pussy and make him shoot instead of getting in the paint, they have a chance yet.
The Lakers odds to win this series are high, while the Rockets chances are slim to none. LeBron and Anthony Davis are too dominant not to produce the whole series. If the other Laker guys do the bare minimum, the Lakers should be able to handle the Rockets.
Houston needs James Harden and Russell Westbrook not to disappear this series. The bench needs to make threes, and they need to be able to contain Anthony Davis. That’s a lot of ifs for the Rockets. This team lives and dies by the 3. They will win or lose by their defense as well. Still, there’s hope. In a minimal sample size, the Rockets did beat the Lakers back in February with their Micro ball. Am I saying the Rockets are going to win? Not necessarily, but this could work out for the Rockets.
I’m sticking with the Lakers to win in this NBA playoff preview. The Rockets may be able to give the Lakers fits. The Lakers almost went to six games with the Blazers. I think the Rockets can take them to seven. Somehow, someway, James Harden or Russell Westbrook will ruin it for the Rockets, and the Lakers will capitalize.
Lakers in 7.