Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets Preview
Two teams expected to make a lot of noise in the playoffs will meet up tonight in the bubble as the Western Conference’s number one team, the Los Angeles Lakers, take on the sixth place Houston Rockets.
The Lakers are 51-16 on the season and have a six-game cushion over the Los Angeles Clippers for first place, but the NBA restart has likely not served as a time for the time to fine-tune or polish things up in preparation for the playoffs as they’ve gone 2-2 in Orlando so far with some cracks beginning to show in the foundation.
The Rockets are 42-25 on the season, have gone 2-1 in Orlando, and could move all the way up to fourth place by the time the playoffs start.
The last time the teams met was on February 6. The Rockets won 121-111 as they were led by Russell Westbrook’s 41-point game, overcoming a strong 32 point, 13 rebound effort by Anthony Davis.
Time: 9:00 PM ET
Arena: The Arena (WWOS), Orlando, FL
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Lakers: Avery Bradley (O), Rajon Rondo (DTD), LeBron James (O), Alex Caruso (Q)
Rockets: Eric Gordon (O), Bruno Caboclo (O), Russell Westbrook (Q)
Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup
For the most part, the Los Angeles Lakers’ problems on offense have been hidden when both LeBron James and Anthony Davis put up a ton of points, but the inconsistencies show up any time one of those two players struggle.
That was the case last night as the Lakers were blown out 105-86 by the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Lakers had just one starter, LeBron James reach double figures and only three players total, while every Thunder starter had no issues putting points up.
“We still have a lot of areas to continue to improve before we feel like we’re ready to win games in the playoffs and to be at the level we want to reach,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “So for us, we’re still in habit-building mode and just continuing to iron some things out that we’re not quite where we were, in my opinion, when the hiatus hit. And so our mindset is to continue to play our guys and to get there.”
James did his part last night, but he’ll be sitting out against the Rockets tonight, so there will be extra pressure on Anthony Davis to bounce back after a nine-point, eight-rebound performance. The Rockets do play micro ball so Davis has the opportunity to take advantage of some mismatches all night, but he’ll need more help from starters Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Houston Rockets Starting Lineup
Like the Lakers, the Rockets are coming into tonight’s game off of a loss and one of their top players, Russell Westbrook could be sitting out.
On Tuesday night, the Rockets lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 110-102. While the loss wasn’t deal, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni felt like the defensive effort was starting to get better.
“We’re doing better,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Sometimes we lack the aggressiveness and the energy on defense that we need to have. It’s a little bit of a choice. We’ve got to choose to be more aggressive and get out.
“We can improve that. We can improve some of our communication. We’re doing a good job of not making the same mistake over and over, but we’ve got to do a better job of being more aggressive on what we’re doing.”
The Rockets went just eight deep on Tuesday. They would have liked to get more offensively from PJ Tucker and Robert Covington, but those players are out there primarily for their defense. James Harden finished with 23 points and nine assists, Danuel House notched 17 and Jeff Green came off the bench for 22. Westbrook finished with 15 points and nine assists.
Not having Westbrook is definitely a difference-maker so D’Antoni will look to his bench, and likely Ben McLemore and Austin Rivers to help fill that void if Westbrook sits again tonight.
Lakers vs Rockets Fantasy Basketball Angle
For the Lakers, Anthony Davis has to be the stud pick. He’ll be the focus of the offense and will have mismatches on both sides of the ball all night as he is matched up with PJ Tucker or Robert Covington. Davis is available on FanDuel for 10.5k and he is projected to finish with 55.7 fantasy points, but I could see him having a huge fantasy night. If you’re looking for a value pickup, look to Kyle Kuzma, who’s been consistently scoring in double digits lately. His salary is a low $4.7k and he is projected for 25.8 points.
If Westbrook sits, the choice is easy – James Harden. Harden has the highest projection of the night at 58.5 points for his FanDuel salary of $10.6k. PJ Tucker is a nice value pickup at $3.8k for a 22.6 point projection, giving him a 5.94 points per $1k value.
Lakers vs. Rockets Betting Odds
Lakers Odds: +138
Rockets Odds: -164
The moneyline and the spread has seemed to move since the day opened and now the Rockets are 1.5 point favorites to win tonight’s matchup against the Lakers after opening as the underdog by two points. The Lakers are 30-17-19 against the spread, while the Rockets are 30-16-18.
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