It’s the season opener for the 2010-2011 Los Angeles Lakers; but before the journey to repeat commences the squad will receive their championship rings for last seasons exploits. This past off-season was the quietest off season ever for a two-time defending champion in any sport.
The Lakers have no problem with being under the radar with all the pressure being on a certain team that plays in the East. While the majority of the NBA was enamored with a super team being assembled with the three biggest names in free agency landing on the east coast.
The spotlight, scrutiny and high expectations will hover over the Heat all-season and like it or not the move ushered in a new era in the NBA. The super team that Miami is chasing is already assembled and in place on the west coast. However, the purple reign is far from over, but it has improved. The Purple and Gold didn’t rest on their laurels and stand pat. The two-time defending champion Lakers retooled and are now two deep at every position.
The Additions of veterans Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, Theo Ratliff and impressive rookies Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter provide a needed mixture of versatility, experience and youth. The Lakers bench was a weakness last year and now should add better outside shooting as well as produce 35+ points per game.
The additions have also extended the careers of Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher as well as provide the Lakers with the ability to match up with anyone. Facing the Rockets; the Lakers have to prepare to play two different teams; one with Yao Ming and one without.
It has been widely publicized that Yao will be limited to 24 minutes per game. Yao is a huge presence in the post and will get the majority of his touches in the half-court offense the Lakers have to minimize his impact on this game.
Los Angeles needs to control the tempo and not allow the Rockets to get out and run. It is a must that all five Lakers get back on defense to eliminate transition baskets. Los Angeles will have to do a good job defending the screen and roll as well as rotating out to their three point shooters. Los Angeles needs to control the boards and play defense without fouling.
It is imperative that the Lakers take care of the ball, limit their turnovers. The Lakers can out-work the Rockets with a combination of excellent ball and player movement. When the Lakers do a good job of sharing the ball; effectively moving it from the strong to the weak side and moving the defense in the process, they’re tough to beat. The Lakers need to trust their offense and get into a rhythm early. Los Angeles will run their offense through Pau Gasol in the post and he needs to accept the challenge and be much more aggressive.
Prediction: Lakers 102 – Rockets 94
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
Los Angeles: TNT
Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
Houston: 1140 AM KHTK (Gary Gerould)
- Andrew Bynum (Knee) Out
- Luke Walton (Hamstring) Out
- Theo Ratliff (Knee) Listed as Day-to-Day
- C Yao Ming (Foot) Listed as Day-to-Day
- PG Kyle Lowry (Back Spasms) Listed as Day-to-Day