The Lakers host the Rockets tonight to start the second round. The Lakers won the season series against the Rockets but realize that you have to elevate your game in the playoffs. The Lakers also know that you can’t be over-confident or complacent against any opponent.
The Houston Rockets advanced to the second round for the 1st time in 12 years. The ironic thing about that is the team did it playing without Tracy McGrady; I wonder how he feels about that.
The Lakers won the 1st round series in five games but really should have swept the Utah Jazz. Being out-rebounded, poor shooting, especially from the free throw line, and not maintaining a lead again were the reasons the Jazz weren’t swept. The Jazz were beaten.
These are areas that the Lakers need to clean up. The Lakers have played very well at times (see the 1st quarter of game 2) but have yet to put together a complete game. The Lakers are an excellent team that can score on anyone but also needs to continue to develop their killer instinct to put teams away.
When the Lakers build a lead the team has to continue to do what got them the lead in the first place and sustain it. The Rockets are a solid defensive team but the Lakers match up very well with them. Houston will use both Shane Battier and Ron Artest to guard Kobe.
The problem with that game plan is that both will have to exert a lot of energy in their attempts to slow Kobe, the end result will be that both will be unsuccessful. The game plan will also negatively affect the offense of both players. The Rockets need Battier to knock down 3-pt shots.
Kobe will play the role of the facilitator early and the closer late. He has taken over and dominated the 4th quarter in every game of the season series and that won’t change. Lamar and Trevor need to stay active. The Lakers need to knockdown shots.
The Lakers have an advantage with their long front line and will win by controlling the tempo, glass, stopping dribble penetration and rotating out to three point shooters.
Slowing Yao Ming will not be easy, but the Lakers have done it all season and this series will be no different. Andrew Bynum might start due to size but has to focus on his defensive principles, being the last line of defense and protecting the rim to stay on the floor and let the offense come to him.
The task to slow the guards, limit the drive and kick opportunities will be a team effort. The Lakers need to throw the ball into the low post and allow Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol to go to work. The Lakers have four wins and happen to have 12 to go.
Tipoff: 7:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: TNT
- Houston: TNT
- Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Houston: KILT Sportsradio 610 (Craig Ackerman)
- Luke Walton (Foot) Out
- Tracy McGrady (Knee) Out
- Von Wafer (Back Spasms) will play.