Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers Preview
The Lakers are as healthy as ever. Lebron James was impressive last game, going for 36 points versus the Spurs. He will look to carry his hot shooting into this matchup against a team that relies solely on their shooting. This Houston Rockets team just completed one of the boldest moves in NBA trade history as they dealt away their starting center, Clint Capela. That trade makes this matchup even more enticing and eye-popping than usual. The Lakers already had a clear advantage upfront, but this advantage will be maximized even more with P.J. Tucker starting at center. The Rockets do have a bevy of scorers and bolster several 3-and-D guys. Yet, this clear size mismatch will be interesting considering just how lengthy and mobile the Lakers are also.
Time: 10:30 PM ET
Arena: Staples Center, Los Angeles, LA
Rockets: Russel Westbrook (DTD)
Lakers Starting Lineup
If there is one clear advantage for the Lakers against pretty much all their opponents, it is their advantage in the paint. Whether it’s scoring, finishing oops, rebounding, blocking shots, few teams can match what the Lakers bring to the table. The Rockets will lose the battle on the boards and points in the paint if the Lakers bigs play with any sort of energy. Look for Lebron and the Lakers to push the pace, with several lobs from the 3pt line and beyond. They will most likely draw doubles down in the paint, so expect many open shots early and throughout. If Green, Kuzma, KCP, and Bradley knock down some open shots, Lebron and AD will have a field day.
Houston Rockets Starting Lineup
The Rockets feature two of the best ball-dominant players in NBA history. They are now on the same team, and it appears Harden has hit a bump recently. The same cannot be said for Westbrook, averaging 31 ppg over his last four. Over the last 15 days, Westbrook is outscoring Harden by 6 fantasy points, and outscoring him by 13 for the past month. If Harden is able to relatively return to respectable efficiency and high scoring volume, the Rockets would be almost unstoppable offensively. Given just how much smaller they are, their interior defense and rebounding may suffer. They still bolster two of the best rebounding guards in the game, along with a system that suits their strengths.
Key Player Matchups
Russel Westbrook/James Harden vs. Avery Bradley/Danny Green
This will be a deciding factor in the game. Bradley or Green don’t necessarily have to contribute much. They just have to make things harder for the other two. If either Westbrook or Harden has a 30pts/30 shots type of night. their chances of winning this game go out the window. Both Bradley and Green can mix things up with their defense. Yet and still, Harden has shown just how easy it is for him to get a bucket against the Lakers over the past few years. Westbrook has been on fire of late, so a team effort defensively will be necessary.
PJ Tucker vs. Javale McGee
Reports of Tucker starting at center make this interesting by default. If McGee can start the game off hot with 6 or 8 pts and rebounds in the first quarter, he would have done his job in this matchup. If Tucker can get double-digit rebounds this game while stretching the floor, he may create some problems for the opposing center.
Expect Westbrook and Harden to have very good nights in fantasy regardless of efficiency. Consider the added rebounds with the absence of Capela, along with the potential for more 3s as a team. PJ Tucker and Austin Rivers should have a bigger role.
For the Lakers, AD should have no problems dominating and scoring down low. The same can be said for Lebron, although he will certainly rack assists up in lobs. Dwight Howard will look to have a great game as well.
Bet on Matchup
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